Malaysia files criminal charges against alleged 1MDB mastermind Jho Low: Report

Low Taek Jho has denied any wrongdoing relating to the corruption scandal at 1MDB, saying he was an informal consultant at the fund. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police on Friday (Aug 24) filed criminal charges against Low Taek Jho and his father over money allegedly stolen from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), reported The Edge.

Citing legal sources, the business publication reported that the charges against Low, also known as Jho Low, and his father Larry Low Hock Peng, relate to money laundering of US$457 million (S$626 million) in cash transfers between 2013 and 2014.

The court papers were registered with the Sessions Court in Putrajaya on Friday morning and warrants of arrest for both men were also sought.

"Warrants of arrest for both of them were issued by the court," director of police commercial crime investigations Amar Singh told Reuters.

According to The Edge, the criminal charges pave the way for the Malaysian authorities to seek extradition of the two men, who are believed to be in China or Abu Dhabi.

"With the registration of the charges, the next step is to seek an extradition," a legal source told the weekly.

Low, an associate of former prime minister Najib Razak and his family, has denied any wrongdoing relating to the corruption scandal at 1MDB, saying he was an informal consultant at the fund.

"Mr Low is conferring with his lawyers regarding what legal action he can take to address this latest political reprisal, but he stands by his earlier statements," his spokesman said in a statement issued on Friday. "He will not submit to any jurisdiction where guilt has been predetermined by politics and self-interest overrules legal process."

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has, in its civil suits to seize luxury assets bought with stolen 1MDB funds, alleged that Low was the mastermind behind the misappropriation of over US$4.5 billion from 1MDB between 2009 and 2014.

According to court documents sighted by The Edge, Low was slapped with eight charges under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act, 2001 (Act 613). Three of the charges were for receiving money and the remaining five were for transferring the cash.

His father Larry faces one charge of transferring US$56 million to his son.

The total sum involved is around US$261 million for receipt of money and US$196 million for transferring of the cash - all done through separate accounts at BSI Bank in Singapore from December 2013 to June 2014.

The money was believed to have been used to purchase the Equanimity, the US$250 million superyacht seized by the Malaysian authorities on Aug 6.

The Singapore authorities have jailed a few bankers and closed two banks - BSI and Falcon - which had Low as their client. The authorities in Switzerland have also acted against the two banks and are probing several individuals they said were involved in the fraud.

During the trial of former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei, Singapore prosecutors produced evidence of how 1MDB money was laundered through what they called "layering", with cash transferred from the accounts of Low to his father and then back to Low.

According to US and Singapore investigators, the total sum of money transferred between father and son via their accounts at BSI Singapore was around US$335 million.

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