Malaysian fugitive Jho Low’s sister issued writ of summons, 1MDB seeks US$3.5m from siblings

1MDB and four of its subsidiaries are the plaintiffs. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE – A writ of summons has been served against Ms Low May Lin, the sister of Malaysian fugitive Jho Low, who is linked to the theft of US$4.5 billion (S$6.15 billion) from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s former sovereign fund.

The notice was filed in The Straits Times on Wednesday and addressed to Ms Low, whose last known address is believed to be at Dublin Road in Singapore.

According to Malaysian news agency Bernama, lawyers representing 1MDB said that attempts to deliver the writ of summons to Ms Low’s address had failed. 

In the writ, Ms Low, 46, and her businessman brother, 41, are named as defendants, together with their mother Goh Gaik Ewe, father Low Hock Peng and brother Low Taek Szen. Mr Tan Kim Loong, an alleged business associate of Jho Low, is also listed.

1MDB and four of its subsidiaries are the plaintiffs. Represented by Skrine, a law firm based in Malaysia, they are seeking US$3.5 million from Ms Low and Jho Low. They claim the money came from secret profits received in fraud of 1MDB.

They are also seeking to trace the flow of the funds and to claim any assets that the funds may have been channelled into. 

Under Malaysia law, Ms Low has 14 days to enter an appearance to defend the suit against her in the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, or a default judgment can be awarded to 1MDB, which may allow it to recover the sums it seeks from her. 

The 1MDB scandal involved the loss of US$4.5 billion which was diverted to offshore bank accounts and shell companies, many linked to Jho Low.

Jho Low himself is accused of stealing US$1.42 billion from three bond transactions that Goldman Sachs Group arranged for the Malaysian wealth fund in 2012 and 2013. 

The bonds were intended to be sold to raise funds for 1MDB. When 1MDB was first set up by former prime minister Najib Razak, it invested in petroleum assets and bought power plants in several countries to promote the economic development of Malaysia.

However, Jho Low allegedly used the siphoned funds to buy luxury assets including a private jet, a superyacht, hotels, and jewellery. His whereabouts are currently unknown. 

Najib, 69, is serving 12 years’ jail for corruption tied to SRC International Bhd, a former unit of 1MDB, after Malaysia’s apex Federal Court on Aug 23 upheld his conviction by the High Court and the Appeals Court.

The writ notice in ST did not state Ms Low’s role in the 1MDB scandal. 

In the writ, Ms Low May Lin and her businessman brother Jho Low are named as defendants.

A search on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority listed Ms Low as a shareholder and director of JKLM Holdings. It is unclear what the business does. She was formerly a director at Alliance Law but has been struck off as at Oct 4, 2021. 

When ST visited Ms Low’s former home on Wednesday, the current occupants renting the unit declined to comment. Ms Low is not listed as an owner of the three-storey house, based on tax records.

Lawyers ST spoke to said that it was not unusual for a writ of summons to be served against Ms Low through a newspaper. 

Mr James Gomez, an associate at Edmond Pereira Law Corporation, noted that such advertisements are usually placed with the approval of a court after at least two attempts to serve the writ have failed.  

Mr Raphael Louis, managing director of Ray Louis Law Corporation, said: “A writ of summons is served to initiate court proceedings. You have to serve it personally on the defendant. It looks like 1MDB’s lawyers were unable to locate her address, or contact her by e-mail or mobile phone.”

Mr Louis, whose areas of focus include civil litigation, said: “In such a situation, they had to apply to the court for substituted service by way of an advertisement to bring the writ to her attention.”

When ST contacted Skrine, the law firm declined to comment.

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