Crime & Courts

1MDB trial: US$15 million of funds used to purchase upmarket properties in London and New York

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho had splurged a staggering US$15 million of 1Malaysia Development Bhd's (1MDB) funds to acquire properties in London and New York, the High Court heard today.

Former 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, however, said the properties have been forfeited by the Department of Justice (DoJ) as part of a consent judgment reached between her and the United States.

She said this when testifying as a key witness in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's corruption trial for misappropriating millions of 1MDB funds.

The 50-year-old former lawyer admitted receiving US$15 million of 1MDB funds via her company River Dee International SA where she held the position of authorised signatory.

"Low had remitted US$9 million into the account between 2012 and 2013.

"Additional funds also went into the account which were used to purchase luxury apartments in London and New York in 2014.

"However, I never lived there due to ongoing refurbishment work," she said under cross-examination by Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Shafee then suggested that the dealings were attempts to legitimise proceeds from unlawful activities, a proposition the witness disagreed with.

Loo said at the time, she was not aware that the monies were connected to the sovereign wealth funds.

She explained that she had no reason to believe the monies were part of the 1MDB financial scandal as Low had already made his fortune through his previous businesses.

She said the rogue financier had been earning millions prior to his association with 1MDB, citing his ownership of various businesses and dealings with companies from Arab countries.

Najib, 70, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.

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