Malaysia’s top law officers say getting Jho Low remains top priority

Financier Low Taek Jho has been painted by prosecutors as the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.
Financier Low Taek Jho has been painted by prosecutors as the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION

KUALA LUMPUR -  The Malaysian government insisted on Friday (Nov 1) that bringing back fugitive financier Low Taek Jho to face trial remained its top priority and raised doubts at the same time about reports that the alleged mastermind of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) fiasco was in the United Arab Emirates.

Police chief Abdul Hamid Bador said that  Low, who is also known as Jho Low, was unlikely to be seeking refuge in the UAE because the Royal Malaysia Police had good rapport with the authorities there.

He was unclear about whether Malaysian authorities had contacted their UAE counterparts, but noted that he “would not stop efforts to track down and bring back this criminal.”

Separately, Attorney General Tommy Thomas added that the campaign to get Low to face criminal charges at home would not be affected by the fact that the businessman had reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) this week.

Malaysia’s Edge publishing group, which spoke to Mr Thomas who is currently overseas, quoted the country’s chief legal adviser to the government as saying that the settlement only covered the civil assets forfeiture actions the DOJ had taken against Low in the central district court of California. 

He added that the criminal charges of money laundering and corrupt practices filed against the businessmen in the Eastern District Court of New York were not part of the settlement. 

The report quoted Mr Thomas as saying that the ongoing trials of former premier Najib Abdul Razak over the 1MDB scandal “are being done in a fair and transparent manner before an independent judiciary.” 

“Jho Low will be guaranteed of that,” added Mr Thomas.

The Straits Times could not immediately contact the Malaysian Attorney-General who is believed to be in Tokyo .

Meanwhile, legal sources close to Low insist that the businessman, who was previously reported to be shuttling between China and Macau, has received political asylum in Europe but remains in the UAE.

A spokesman for Low has also said the statements by Malaysian government officials appeared politically motivated and “ignored both the facts at hand and the underlying legal principles.”

“It remains the case that we understand Mr Low was offered asylum in August 2019 by a country that acts in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights, ratified by many countries around the world,” the spokesman said.