While the U.S. Dept. of Justice has filed a high-profile civil forfeiture complaint seeking to seize assets, including The Wolf of Wall Street film and EMI Music Publishing, supposedly bought through stolen funds from the Malaysian government, it is expected to have little impact on the operations of the company.
According to the civil complaint, certain individuals, led by Jho Low (also known as Low Taek Jho), misappropriated $3.5 billion in funds from 1Malaysia Development Berdhard (1MDB), described as a strategic investment and development company wholly-owned by the government of Malaysia.
In addition to EMI Music Publishing and The Wolf of Wall Street, the complaint names investments in trophy real estate properties as among the assets it is seeking to seize. In the case of EMI Music Publishing, bought by a consortium of investors that included Sony Corp. Mubadala Development Company PJSC; Jynwel Capital Limited; the Blackstone Group’s GSO Capital Partners LP; and David Geffen. (After the acquisition, Sony/ATV assumed administration of EMI Music Publishing.)
Using a trust named Jynwel Capital owned by the Low family, Low invested $106.66 million in the $2.2 billion acquisition of EMI Music Partners. As part of that purchase, Low obtained a seat on EMI Music Publishing’s board of directors, and was also named non-executive chairman of EMI Music Publishing Asia, according to the complaint.
The complaint seeks “any and all rights, including copyright and intellectual property rights, as well as the right to collect and receive any profits, royalties, and proceeds of distribution owned by or owed to JW Nile (BVI), Ltd.; JCL Media (EMI Publishing Ltd.); and/or Jynwel Capital Ltd., relating to EMI Music Publishing Group North America Holdings, Inc. and D.H. Publishing L.P.”
D.H.Publishing is the holding company that owns EMI Music Publishing, according to sources.
According to sources familiar with the EMI acquisition, this lawsuit only means that any dividends paid out to investors like Low would be paid to the U.S. government instead, if its lawsuit prevails in court. If the DoJ wins the case, Low’s equity stake could eventually be bought out by other investors in EMI Music or a new investors, those sources speculate.