Malaysia 1MDB scandal

Malaysian government file formal request for Macau police to arrest fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho

The alleged mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal has been in hiding in Macau after leaving Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 5:27pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 10:09pm

The net appears to be tightening around fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho after police in Macau confirmed they had received a “request” for his arrest from the Malaysian government.

Judiciary Police in the world’s richest casino hub confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Interpol Macau, a subdivision of Interpol Beijing, received “the request of the relevant country (Malaysia)” regarding Low, 37, a key figure in the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal who the South China Morning Post revealed three days ago had slipped out of Hong Kong with his family and was hiding out in Macau.

In a brief statement, the city’s Judiciary Police told the Macau News Agency that they were currently verifying the content of the request and will provide the information requested by Malaysia.

At a press conference in Gelang Patah on Monday, a minister of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) of Malaysia, Lim Kit Siang, criticised previous prime minister Najib Razak for not sending out a notice for Low’s arrest while the suspect was in Hong Kong, despite there being an Interpol red notice filed against him.

Lim cited the Post’s earlier report which showed the Malaysian police had not formally requested Low’s arrest from the Hong Kong police, adding that the Malaysian billionaire had stayed in an upscale Hong Kong flat in Pacific Place – also revealed by the Post – before leaving for Macau.

Hong Kong police would not have been under any obligation to arrest the suspect unless a formal request was made.

Malaysia’s Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun had said that Low was in Macau but police were unable to extract him as the city does not have an extradition agreement with Malaysia.

However, Low will be unable to stay in Macau for more than 30 days on his Malaysian passport unless he applies for asylum.

Low is the holder of two passports, one from Malaysia, which has been cancelled, and another from St Kitts and Nevis.

Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal: a Razak family affair?

The office for the Secretary of Security had previously told the news agency that “according to the law, security authorities do not reveal border entry or exit data of anyone”, so it is unclear which passport Low used.

There had been no report about a request for asylum made by Low at the time of writing.

Lim drew parallels of the failure to order Low’s arrest with the inaction of the former prime minister to stop the “criminal conduct” in the 1MDB scandal in all of its four phases from 2009 to 2014.

The criminal conduct Lim was referring to was stated in paragraphs nine to 13 in the US Department of Justice’s litigation filed against Razak to forfeit 1MDB-linked assets, for which US$4.5 billion from Malaysia’s state fund had allegedly been misused by “multiple individuals, including public officials and their associates”.

Low has been charged with being the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.

Hong Kong police declined to comment on Tuesday.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the attorney general of Switzerland, Michael Lauber, and a delegation from his office were received by the recently appointed Malaysian attorney general, Tommy Thomas, and other officials from the Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers during a high-level meeting in Putrajaya.

The focus of the discussions was on the cooperation between the two prosecuting authorities, in particular with regard to the 1MDB case. The main emphasis of the discussions was on the need to affirm a mutual commitment to the rule of the law and the resumption of mutual legal assistance between the two jurisdictions.

A statement issued by the Swiss attorney general’s office said they were investigating the use of finance obtained by the Malaysian sovereign funds 1MDB and SRC. The funds were earmarked for investment in economic development projects, in particular the Petrosaudi, Tanjong-Genting and Admic projects, as well as in an SRC investment project involving natural resources. All or part of the financing obtained was alleged to have been used for other purposes, most particularly for the personal enrichment of the people involved.

The wide-ranging Swiss probe includes investigations into two former officials at 1MDB and against persons unknown on suspicion of bribery of foreign public officials, as well as allegations of misconduct in public office, money laundering and criminal mismanagement.

At this stage, the statement added, six people are under investigation and two banks are suspected of involvement. Also under investigation are two former officials from the United Arab Emirates who had been in charge of Abu Dhabi sovereign funds. They are suspected of committing fraud, criminal mismanagement, misconduct in public office, document forgery, bribing foreign officials and money laundering. Najib Razak, the former Malaysian prime minister, is not one of the public officials facing accusations, the Swiss statement added.

The Swiss attorney general’s office said it was unable at this stage to provide details of the amounts of money involved.