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Malaysia 1MDB scandal

1MDB scandal: Malaysia asks Interpol to find Jho Low, financier linked to missing US$4.5 billion

Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, has not been charged with any crime, however US authorities have said they are pursuing a criminal probe into 1MDB-linked transactions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 October, 2017, 2:51pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 October, 2017, 10:49pm

Malaysia has asked Interpol to try to locate a Malaysian financier for questioning over his suspected involvement in a multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the deputy prime minister said on Monday.

The US Justice Department is seeking to seize US$1.7 billion in assets that it said were bought with misappropriated funds from 1MDB, according to dozens of civil lawsuits filed by the department in the past two years.

The assets include a private jet, a hotel and real estate in New York, and US$107 million interest in EMI Music Publishing bought by Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, the lawsuits said.

Low, whose whereabouts is unknown, has not been charged with any crime. But US authorities have said they are pursuing a criminal probe into 1MDB-linked transactions.

“We are confident Interpol will act professionally, but the police have yet to receive any detailed information (on Low’s whereabouts),” Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in parliament.

A spokesman for Low, whose company Jynwel Capital is based in Hong Kong, could not be reached for comment. Low has previously denied any wrongdoing, saying that the US Justice Department’s actions were “a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case”.

Interpol did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

1MDB, founded by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is facing money laundering probes in at least six countries including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore.

A total of US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, according to the US lawsuits.

Low is accused in the lawsuits of using 1MDB-linked funds to buy Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio a US$3.2 million Picasso painting, and giving about US$9 million in jewellery to Australian model Miranda Kerr.

DiCaprio and Kerr have turned over the items to US authorities and promised to cooperate in the 1MDB probe.

The lawsuits also said US$681 million from 1MDB was transferred to the account of “Malaysian Official 1”, which US and Malaysian sources have previously identified as Najib.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing and a Malaysian government investigation has also cleared him of any wrongdoing. A Malaysian police probe into 1MDB is under way.