Bookshops face threat of legal action over Jho Low book

PETALING JAYA • Lawyers representing financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, have sent threatening letters to bookshops around the world in an attempt to prevent the distribution of a new book about his alleged involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, reported The Guardian.

The book, Billion Dollar Whale, was written by Wall Street Journal reporters Bradley Hope and Tom Wright. It is already being sold in Malaysia and Singapore.

Low has been identified by investigators in Malaysia and the United States as a key figure in the 1MDB case. The US Department of Justice says over US$4.5 billion (S$6.2 billion) was misappropriated from the state fund.

The Malaysian authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Low, whose whereabouts are unknown. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The Guardian said it has seen the letters that have been sent to independent bookstores in Britain and elsewhere around the world.

In the letters, lawyers from the London-based firm Schillings said the decision by some to publish a synopsis of the book constituted an actionable libel of Low.

The lawyers asked individual booksellers to provide a commitment in writing never to sell the book, detail proposals for compensating Low for the publication of the synopsis, and provide "reimbursement of his legal costs". They also said if they did not receive a response, they would commence legal proceedings against the stores.

A spokesman for MPH, which is the distributor of the book in Singapore, said the legal action overseas will not affect local bookshops.

"At the moment, we will proceed as planned," he said. Some 6,000 copies have gone out to the stores this month, and another 4,000 copies have been ordered in anticipation of the demand.

Major bookstore Kinokuniya Singapore, which has stocked about 1,000 copies of the book, said it has not received any cancellation notice about its launch of the book on Sept 26.

• With additional input by Amelia Teng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 16, 2018, with the headline 'Bookshops face threat of legal action over Jho Low book'. Print Edition | Subscribe