PETALING JAYA: The Edge Media Group today clarified that it had bought The Malaysian Insider (TMI) in June 2014 without knowing that it was funded by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.
In The Edge Weekly, it said it bought the news portal for RM4 million from two shareholders, one of whom was known to them.
“The other was someone we did not know. We were not aware that Jho Low was funding TMI from 2010,” it said in its printed version.
The paper further said Jho Low had pumped US$9 million into TMI to salvage the now-defunct news portal.
The Edge Group shut the portal down after run-ins with the Najib administration during the height of the 1MDB scandal in 2016.
Former employees of the portal went on to launch another news portal, The Malaysian Insight, after a hiatus.
Jahabar Sadiq, The Malaysian Insight’s CEO, told FMT today that he was not aware of the information published in the paper.
“You should ask the people named in the report,” he said.
Financing of TMI has been shrouded in mystery from the start.
Citing sources, The Edge said Malaysian businessman Vincent Cheah told investigators that he started the news portal with partner Shaik Aqmal Shaik Allaudin in 2007.
Cheah said its intention was to support then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration ahead of the March 2008 general election.
However, Abdullah had performed badly, losing five states and BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament. He left in 2009.
TMI came under attack from Umno and its supporters, who believed it was undermining Najib Razak, who succeeded Abdullah.
The report stated that to diffuse the situation between TMI and the Najib group, Jho Low stepped in to take over the funding of TMI in 2010, paying US$9 million but his name never surfaced.
According to The Edge report, Cheah admitted that he pocketed US$3 million for himself while the rest was used to fund TMI until it was sold to The Edge Weekly.
TMI was blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission in February 2016 after it published an article that the MACC Advisory Council had recommended that Najib be charged over 1MDB.