KUALA LUMPUR • Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho is now "hiding like a mouse" to avoid facing charges by the authorities in the United States and Malaysia, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Tun Dr Mahathir said Low, also known as Jho Low, used to lead a luxurious lifestyle travelling around the world but was now on the run from the authorities.
"Before, he was a man of the world flying around in jet planes and (sailing around in the luxury yacht) Equanimity, living a great life. Now he has to hide like a tikus," said Dr Mahathir, using the Malay word for mouse.
Dr Mahathir was responding to reports that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had charged the fugitive businessman and two Goldman Sachs bankers on Thursday over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
"We would like to get Jho Low and put him on trial, but now, of course, (he) is nowhere to be seen. We don't know where he is," Dr Mahathir told reporters on Friday.
He said that while Malaysia would like to find Low first, it would not matter if US authorities arrest him instead because they would provide access to each other.
"We also would like to have him because we have several charges against him but the US also wants him," he said.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir said he had not read reports of Low's indictment by the DOJ but only heard of it during the tabling of Budget 2019 by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
The US Justice Department arrested former Goldman Sachs banker Ng Chong Hwa in Malaysia on Thursday, while former Goldman banker Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to charges and agreed to pay US$43.7 million (S$60 million) in restitution on ill-gotten gains.
The men were charged with conspiring to launder billions from 1MDB.
In a statement issued on his behalf by a public relations firm based in Sydney, Low maintained his innocence and asked the public to keep an open mind regarding the case until all the evidence comes to light.
The statement said Low held no formal position at 1MDB and was never employed by Goldman Sachs or the governments of Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK