Fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low says he was never in a position of influence in 1MDB case

Fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho has been charged in Malaysia and the United States over allegations that he orchestrated the theft of billions of dollars from state fund 1MDB. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho has filed a statement of defence at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, maintaining that he does not hold any official positions in the country's debt-ridden state fund 1MDB or its four subsidiaries.

The defence was filed on Wednesday (Jan 26) by Low's lawyers against a civil action suit by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and its subsidiaries.

In May last year, 1MDB and subsidiaries 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited, 1MDB Energy Limited, 1MDB Energy (Langat) Limited and Global Diversified Investment Company Limited formerly known as 1MDB Global Investments Limited, filed a US$3.78 billion (S$5.13 billion) suit against Low, his parents Larry Low Hock Peng and Goh Gaik Ewe, his sister May Lin, his younger brother Taek Szen, and his associate Eric Tan Kim Loong.

The businessman commonly known as Jho Low said the lawsuit should be dismissed, as it failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action over the allegation of breach of trust or fiduciary duty.

He argued that he was never a director or shareholder in 1MDB or its four subsidiaries, nor a member of its board of advisers or part of the management team of any of the plaintiffs.

"As such, the first defendant (Low) has no legal standing to exercise control over the plaintiffs, including but not limited to directing or otherwise causing the alleged transfer and/or receipt of funds," he stated.

Low has been charged in Malaysia and the United States over allegations that he orchestrated the theft of billions of dollars from state fund 1MDB, co-founded by former prime minister Najib Razak in 2009. Low has consistently denied wrongdoing.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) had estimated that at least US$4.5 billion was looted from 1MDB, which was set up as Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund, during Najib's tenure as prime minister. Low has two Interpol red notices and a US arrest warrant against him.

Low said 1MDB's lawsuit against him was redundant, as the present civil action suit was based on the US DoJ filings regarding certain allegations, news portal Malaysiakini reported.

The DoJ's civil suit against him had been mutually settled without any finding of "guilt, fault, liability and/or any form of wrongdoing", he said, but 1MDB ignored the resolution of the DoJ civil action.

1MDB's case amounted to a "double claim of funds voluntarily forfeited by the DoJ", he added.

Low also argued that the resolution of the DoJ action led to the voluntary forfeiture and repatriation of assets for the ultimate benefit of the Malaysian government, which is also to the benefit of the plaintiffs.

"The plaintiffs in the suit herein are ultimately owned by the government of Malaysia through the Minister of Finance (Incorporated), and in effect, the government of Malaysia is the prime mover of the present suit against the defendants named herein. As such, the plaintiffs' claims are redundant," he said in his statement.

"In further consideration of the foregoing, the plaintiffs' claims amount to an impermissible double counting of such repatriated assets, and therefore should not be considered as forfeitable sums."

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