Noose tightening around Jho Low after US charges, says lawyer

Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer says the noose is tightening around Low Taek Jho following the charges made in the US against the fugitive businessman for conspiring with a former Goldman Sachs banker to launder billions of dollars allegedly stolen from 1MDB.

SN Nair said the US would now issue a warrant and request Interpol to issue a red notice for the arrest of Low, better known as Jho Low.

“The US has a wider reach, given its international stature, and whoever is protecting him will now be under tremendous pressure,” he told FMT.

Nair, a former police officer accustomed to the arrest of suspects hiding in foreign jurisdictions, was responding to reports yesterday that Jho Low, along with former Goldman Sachs bankers Roger Ng and Tim Leissner, had been charged in the US in relation to 1MDB.

They are the first individuals to be charged in the US in relation to the case.

Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing Goldman’s internal accounting controls.

He was ordered to pay US$43.7 million.

Ng, meanwhile, was arrested in Malaysia in accordance with a provisional arrest warrant issued at the request of the US.

Jho Low, who previously said he did consulting work for 1MDB, is portrayed by some global investigators as the mastermind behind some of the schemes involving missing funds.

His whereabouts are not publicly known, with Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin telling the Dewan Rakyat on Monday that the fugitive businessman had been moving around to avoid detection.

Muhyiddin added however that the government had tracked down Jho Low’s latest location and was seeking cooperation from a foreign country to bring him back to Malaysia to face charges related to 1MDB.

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, who is a key government adviser, told Astro Awani earlier this week that Jho Low was still attempting to broker an immunity deal with authorities.

He said Jho Low had reached out as recently as last week, seeking immunity in exchange for assistance in finding assets linked to 1MDB.

Nair said a country could accede to the US’ request to hand Jho Low over, but added that the businessman had two other options.

“He could surrender to the US authorities if he feels that he will get a fairer trial there,” he said. Alternatively, Jho Low could seek asylum in a country with no extradition treaty with the US.

“But the noose is getting tighter with the US coming into the picture,” he added.

Even if the businessman was found guilty of the charges in the US, he said, Jho Low’s troubles would not end there as Malaysia could seek his extradition to face trial here.

On Aug 24, Jho Low and his father, Low Hock Peng, were charged in absentia at the Putrajaya Sessions Court with embezzling funds said to be stolen from 1MDB.

Jho Low faces eight charges under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, three for receiving money and five for transferring the cash.

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