A New Zealand court on Friday approved a request by relatives of Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho to appoint new trustees to fight the seizure of assets by the U.S. government in its investigation of the scandal-tainted 1MDB fund.
Low and several family members stand to lose $260 million in assets held in New Zealand trusts that they benefited from after the U.S. government seized the assets in a California court proceeding.
Assets included a aircraft, property in New York and the Viceroy L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills.
In its ruling, the New Zealand High Court agreed to a request by Low's family members to replace their Swiss trustees with New Zealand and Cayman Islands trust services companies.
"I am satisfied that the replacement of the current trustees with trustees who are willing to ensure that proper legal steps are taken in the California proceedings is not only expedient, but necessary to safeguard the trust assets," Judge Christopher Toogood said in his judgment.
Court records said the Swiss trustees did not take any steps to stop the seizure, citing concerns that that would be considered money laundering by the U.S. government.