Stolen emails seem to further entangle Jho Low in 1MDB affair


KUALA LUMPUR: New revelations have been made in a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that appear to further implicate Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, in the muddy waters of 1MDB.

The WSJ said newly released stolen emails point to a long-running relationship between Jho Low and Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the US.

The report claimed the emails showed Otaiba and his Jordanian partner Shaher Awartani had discussed enquiries they had received from US, Swiss and Singaporean authorities about transactions they had allegedly received from entities connected to Low.

The WSJ report, quoting people familiar with the 1MDB investigations in Switzerland, Singapore and the US, said officials were looking into the circumstances of the transfers to companies controlled by Otaiba and Awartani, and whether they had bought assets with funds allegedly originating from 1MDB.

Jho Low has been named by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) as being at the centre of the alleged misappropriation of US$4.5 billion from 1MDB. However, 1MDB itself has said no funds are missing from it.

The WSJ said both Otaiba and Awartani had declined to comment. It said the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington had declined to comment on the emails stolen from Otaiba except to say they were part of a campaign by political opponents to smear him. The embassy noted that Otaiba had private business interests outside his diplomatic role.

1MDB, too, it said, had declined to comment. 1MDB has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Low has denied any wrongdoing, too, and his spokesperson said the leaked emails created a “biased and inaccurate picture”.

The emails are said to have been shown to the WSJ by an organisation called Global Leaks, which declined to say how it got hold of them. However, it said it wanted to expose corruption and financial frauds by rich governments.

The WSJ had earlier reported that companies connected to Otaiba had allegedly received US$66 million from entities investigators said acted as conduits for money said to have been stolen from 1MDB.

The emails reportedly detail Otaiba’s sizable personal wealth. He has lately become a frequent source of advice to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, on Middle East policy, according to the report.

The stolen emails, the WSJ said, appeared to show Otaiba using his diplomatic influence to persuade banks to give loans, saying it was important for UAE-Malaysia relations.

The WSJ report gave excerpts of the contents of several of the emails, including one, in 2014, apparently encouraging Abu Dhabi banks to participate in a short-term refinancing loan for 1MDB.
The report also mentioned payments allegedly being made to a British Virgin Islands company controlled by Otaiba and Awartani from a British Virgin Islands company said to be owned by an associate of Low.
It tied the contents of some of these emails to documents filed by the US DoJ in US courts seeking to seize assets the DoJ claimed had been bought from money stolen from 1MDB.

It mentioned the contents of some emails between Otaiba and Awartani and bankers who handled their finances.

The WSJ report also revealed an email allegedly sent by Low to Awartani asking how to get in touch quickly to discuss “questions being asked”.

FMT has not seen the emails, and cannot verify their authenticity.