World

Tycoon gambled away millions from fund

Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, withdrew US$1.15 million (S$1.55m) from his account at a Las Vegas casino to gamble with several individuals, including Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's stepson Riza Aziz and a lead actor in Hollywood film Wolf of Wall Street, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

The justice department said on Wednesday it is moving to seize more than US$1 billion in assets linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The department said the assets were "associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated" from 1MDB, which was established by Mr Najib to support economic investment.

In its civil suits to seize assets allegedly acquired by siphoning funds from 1MDB, the department listed the US$1.15 million as part of US$41 million purportedly diverted from 1MDB by Mr Riza to pay off gambling expenses for himself, Mr Low, and their associate Eric Tan Kim Loong, liberal news portal Malaysiakini reported.

"On or about July 15, 2012, Mr Low withdrew an aggregate cash amount of US$1,150,090 at the Venetian Casino: US$500,000 as a withdrawal of deposit, and US$650,090 as redemption of casino chips and other gaming instruments.

"Several individuals gambled with Mr Low on this occasion, using his account. These individuals included Mr Aziz; Red Granite Pictures co-founder Christopher 'Joey' McFarland; a lead actor in The Wolf of Wall Street (Hollywood Actor 1); and a former chief investment officer of 1MDB," the documents said.

The documents did not name the Hollywood Actor 1, but said the individual had won a Golden Globe award in 2014 for his role in the Wolf of Wall Street - a reference to superstar Leonardo di Caprio, who won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

The department also claimed that Mr Riza's US$41 million gambling funds were part of the US$238 million Aabar BVI had transferred to a Singaporean bank account for Mr Riza's production firm, Red Granite Pictures, in 2012.

According to the department, Aabar BVI, a British Virgin Islands company set up with a similar name to an Abu Dhabi investment firm, had received US$1.367 billion diverted from bonds raised by 1MDB for power purchase agreements in 2012.

malaysiaNajib Razak1MDB