Possible Jho Low-DoJ deal worries Malaysia, says report

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers representing Low Taek Jho have approached US officials hoping to strike a deal for the fugitive Malaysian businessman, according to Sarawak Report (SR).

SR said a team representing Low, better known as Jho Low, met with officials from the Department of Justice (DoJ), which has named him as among key persons responsible for embezzling billions of dollars from Malaysian state firm 1MDB.

It reported that the move was an admission by Low that he would fail to get US courts to return some US$1.2 billion in assets seized from him, which investigators believe were siphoned from 1MDB.

“However, by cutting a deal the billionaire, who is facing criminal charges in Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland and elsewhere, including the United States, will be hoping to retain some of the value of the assets,” it added.

SR also reported that Malaysian authorities were concerned over the likelihood of a deal between DoJ and Jho Low.

The businessman, who has vowed not to surrender to Malaysian authorities, is represented by a legal team led by former federal prosecutor and New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

SR noted that the US had recently refused a request from a Malaysian official to guarantee it would return all the money back from the assets seized.

“It doesn’t mean that the United States will not return the money to Malaysia, but it does mean the US is insisting on keeping control over the process and that might include settling the case for less than the entire amount,” SR quoted a source as saying.

SR said Malaysian authorities were in the dark about Jho Low’s overtures, adding that they “may very well react with dismay at the prospect of any settlement of this nature”.

He said the DOJ might be focusing on other aspects of the scandal involving Jho Low, such as its pursuit of the banking giant Goldman Sachs.

“Settling the civil action would free up prosecutors to pursue the Goldman bond issues on behalf of 1MDB, which netted the bank suspiciously obscene commissions of up to 11%.”

It was reported yesterday that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was trying to bring home all assets overseas allegedly purchased using funds misappropriated from 1MDB.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki said they included a Bombardier 700 aircraft worth RM143 million, which has been grounded in Singapore, three paintings worth more than RM400 million and properties purchased in several countries.