A flamboyant Malaysian financier linked to an international money-laundering probe has laid bare New Zealand’s surprising appeal as a destination for the ultra-rich to park their wealth. Family members of Low Taek Jho, who is suspected by U.S. officials of diverting money from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., are beneficiaries of New Zealand trusts holding $265 million in assets including a Bombardier jet, a luxury Beverley Hills hotel and a penthouse in the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, according to court documents. The family is fighting the U.S. Justice Department’s bid to seize the assets. Jho Low has said he provided consulting to 1MDB that didn’t break any laws.
The case has shone a spotlight on a multi-billion dollar trust industry in New Zealand that allows foreigners to hold assets with minimal disclosure.