KUALA LUMPUR: A US court has allowed the sale of a private jet allegedly bought by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho with money taken from Malaysia's scandal-linked state fund 1MDB, court filings showed.
The Bombardier Global 5000 jet is among US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly purchased by Low, also known as Jho Low, and his associates with funds stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has said.
The jet is the second asset linked to 1MDB to go on sale. Earlier this week, Malaysia put up for auction the Equanimity, a US$250 million luxury yacht, also allegedly bought by Low.
A judge in a California court agreed on Wednesday (Oct 31) to a proposal between the DoJ and the company that owns the jet, Global One Aviation, to sell the aircraft.
The parties cited possible risk of damage and the cost of maintaining the jet, which is currently in Singapore.
A spokesman for Global One Aviation said a formal bidding process should start immediately.
"This agreement has been reached in cooperation with the United States government to ensure that the parties' legal rights with respect to the jet are maintained, and that the jet's value is not depleted while these claims are appropriately resolved," the spokesman said in an emailed statement.
The court said bids for the Bombardier jet should meet or exceed a minimum reserve price, which Global One Aviation proposed to be set at US$5.4 million. The court filing did not give a reason for the lower valuation of the aircraft.
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The DoJ has said that some US$4.5 billion was siphoned from 1MDB, and used by Low and his associates to buy the jet, the yacht, as well as Picasso paintings, jewellery, and real estate.
The Malaysian government said in August it wanted to repossess the aircraft.
Low, the target of a Malaysian arrest warrant, has denied wrongdoing. His whereabouts are unknown.
The proceeds from the sale will be held in an account maintained by the US pending the conclusion of the asset forfeiture case, the court said.
In a separate filing on Wednesday, the court agreed to replace Jho Low's stake in EMI Music Publishing in the forfeiture case with the proceeds from a proposed stake sale to Sony Corp.
The US civil lawsuits had sought to seize Low's US$107 million stake in EMI which the DOJ said was bought with stolen 1MDB funds. In May, Sony made a US$2.3 billion offer to gain control of EMI.