PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang has questioned whether former prime minister Najib Razak intentionally let controversial businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, slip past the authorities despite having an opportunity to have him arrested in Hong Kong.
In a statement on Monday (July 9), the DAP veteran cited a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report revealing that Jho Low, the alleged 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal mastermind, was "hiding in plain sight" with his entourage in Hong Kong by occupying multiple rooms at the Pacific Place Apartments for months.
SCMP reported that the reason Hong Kong authorities did nothing to stop Low - despite the Interpol Red Notice - was because there was no formal request for his arrest from Malaysia.
Jho Low has now reportedly escaped to Macau which does not have extradition treaties with other countries.
"Is the failure of the previous Najib government to make a formal request to the Hong Kong Government to arrest Jho Low the same reason why it did not stop the 'the criminal conduct' in the 1MDB scandal in all its four phases from 2009 to 2014?" Lim asked.
Lim said the "criminal conduct" in "four principal phases" from 2009 to 2014 was stated in paragraphs 9 to 13 of the US Department of Justice (DoJ) litigation to forfeit 1MDB-linked assets.
He added that DoJ's 250-page report detailed "multiple individuals, including public officials and their associates, conspired to fraudulently divert" US$4.5 billion (S$6.1 billion) from 1MDB through various means.
"The funds diverted from 1MDB were 'used for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their relatives and associates' including to purchase luxury real estate in the United States and overseas," he said.
Lim said the detailed expose was damaging to Malaysia but Najib, as the then prime minister and finance minister, did nothing to clear Malaysia's integrity.
Lim added that Najib's response was to maintain that "all reports on the 1MDB scandal were fake news and an international conspiracy against him and the Umno-Barisan Nasional government of Malaysia".