Kuala Lumpur—Fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho is now facing additional charges related to the 1MDB scandal.
Mr Low, popularly known as Jho Low, is now being charged with engaging in criminal conspiracy with Najib Razak, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, who is himself facing numerous charges related to the sovereign wealth scandal and is currently on trial for corruption.
Two other individuals have had charges brought against them: Tarek Obaid and Patrick Mahony, directors of PetroSaudi International. Messrs Mahony and Obaid are facing additional money laundering charges for having received US$300 million (S$ 415 million) from 1MDB via illegal means, brought forward by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on February 10. These are the first charges brought against Messrs Obaid and Mahony in Malaysia.
Mr Low has repeatedly denied all charges against him in Malaysia, and his lawyers have not yet commented on the charges.
As neither Mr Low nor the other two men are in Malaysia, the government is asking Interpol for help in determining their whereabouts.
Should the accused be convicted of criminal conspiracy, he may be jailed for as long as 20 years and be made to pay a fine of less than five times the value of the unlawful proceeds.
On the other hand, for money laundering, a guilty conviction could result in a fine of as much as five million ringgit (S$1.67 million), a five year prison sentence, or both.
Mr Low is also still a wanted man in Singapore, which was confirmed by the Singapore Police Force last month. The Edge Singapore reports the spokesman from the Singapore Police Force as saying, “The charges, warrants of arrest and INTERPOL Red Notices against Low and Tan remain in force. Both remain key persons of interest to Singapore in ongoing 1MDB-related investigations.”
The other individual referred to by the spokesman is Mr Low’s close associate, Tan Kim Loong. Mr Tan’s name had been used in opening accounts with Falcon Bank, which is now defunct, but back then had been the channel for laundering funds from 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad).
In October 2016, Singapore put Mr Low on the Interpol Red Notice, after the probe into the siphoning of 1MDB funds connected to banks based in Singapore had started. But the public only learned of the Red Notice on the fugitive financier in July 2018, after a report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) said that Mr Low had been allowed to depart to Macau from Hong Kong, and that there had been no request for help in keeping him in Hong Kong.
But the Singapore police said then that they had asked for help in detaining the financier, although this request had been denied.
In an interview lats January that was published online in The Straits Times, the fugitive financier debunked the portrayal of himself as 1MDB’s “mastermind,” providing the rationale that he has never held any decision-making role at 1MDB or SRC.
Instead, he claims that his assistance was asked for due to his connections with “influential foreign businessmen and decision-makers.”
Mr Low claims that the decision-making responsibilities for 1MDB had been on the shoulders of “management, board and shareholders” who in turn had been advised by “international bankers, lawyers and other independent professionals.” —/TISG