1MDB probe: Fugitive Malaysian financier faces fresh graft charges

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Kuala Lumpur, Dec 5 (IANS) The Malaysian police on Wednesday filed fresh charges against fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, a key figure in a corruption scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that led to the fall of the previous government.

Low, 37, was charged in absentia along with four other high officials or employees of the state investment fund. Low and the four other defendants are still on the run, Efe news reported.

The group faces 13 charges for laundering over 4.2 billion ringgit ($1.17 billion) of 1MDB’s losses, according to a statement released by the police, which issued an international arrest warrant for the five suspects.

Low was charged with five counts over the transfer of $1.03 billion to a Swiss bank between 2009 and 2011, as well as with two others for receiving $126 million in a Singapore-based bank account, the statement said.

The Malaysian police filed additional charges against Low in November for conspiring to launder money along with two Goldman Sachs employees.

Low is wanted by the American, Malaysian and Singaporean police in connection with cases involving several 1MDB transactions.

The US Department of Justice estimated that some $4.5 billion was diverted from 1MDB, out of which some $1 billion could have been used to pay for works of art, properties, jewellery and yachts, among other products.

Low, whose passport was revoked, was hiding in China or Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, according to reports.

He protested his innocence in a statement published on a website maintained by his lawyers, after charges were filed against him in the US.

Low had close ties with former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who created and led 1MDB as a state investment fund after becoming the Finance Minister.

The 1MDB corruption scandal was uncovered in 2015 by the Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report portal, which brought to light diversion of the 2.6 billion ringgit ($627 million) to Najib’s private accounts.

Najib, who was in power from 2009 to 2018, denied the accusation and said the money was a donation from a Saudi prince. The scandal cost him the general elections in May, which were won by Mahathir Mohamad, his former mentor.

Najib now faces 38 charges in court, while his wife, Rosmah Mansor, faces 17.



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