1MDB-linked Jho Low partied in Phuket recently, says report

Controversial businessman Low Taek Jho was reported to be in Phuket earlier this month.
Controversial businessman Low Taek Jho was reported to be in Phuket earlier this month.

PETALING JAYA • The Malaysian authorities looking for controversial businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, may not have far to look.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday that Mr Low, the alleged mastermind behind the multibillion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, was in the Thai resort island of Phuket earlier this month in anticipation of the victory of his ally, former prime minister Najib Razak, in Malaysia's general election.

However, the WSJ report said Mr Low later left Thailand and has "struck a more careful posture" since Datuk Seri Najib's Barisan Nasional was defeated by the Pakatan Harapan alliance on May 9.

The report also alleged that up until the election, Mr Low had remained in direct contact with Mr Najib and with people in Mr Najib's inner circle. It said despite various investigations launched against 1MDB by various countries, Mr Low continued to party and sail around Asia in a super-yacht.

"Low was so nonchalant he held a party in February with celebrity friends in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau," the report said.

WSJ also reported that Mr Low's lawyers said he declined to be interviewed or reveal where he was.

Previously, Nanyang Siang Pau reported that Mr Low was hiding in Taiwan. Malaysia does not have an extradition treaty with either China or Taiwan.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said that the government "roughly knows" where to find Mr Low.

Some US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) had allegedly been misappropriated from 1MDB, with reports that about US$700 million had gone to Mr Najib's personal bank accounts. Mr Najib has said the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family and was previously cleared of any wrongdoing by the Malaysian authorities.

Mr Low, a former consultant to 1MDB, denies any wrongdoing, and has not been seen in public since 2015.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2018, with the headline '1MDB-linked Jho Low partied in Phuket recently, says report'. Print Edition | Subscribe