Published: Fri, November 02, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Jho Low denies wrongdoing after U.S. charges over 1MDB scandal

Jho Low denies wrongdoing after U.S. charges over 1MDB scandal

About $4bn disappeared from the fund and the claims of corruption led to Malaysia's former prime minister, Najib Razak, being charged with corruption, charges he has denied.

The fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, was set up in 2009 by then-Prime Minister Najib Razak to promote economic development. Najib chaired its advisory board and as finance minister held veto power over its activities.

An estimated $4.5bn was misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, the United States justice department alleged. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called the scandal "kleptocracy at its worst". 1MDB now staggers under enormous debt. A parliamentary inquiry found many irregularities but had no mandate to prosecute.

While the Justice Department has been investigating the 1MDB scandal for some time and has pursued civil lawsuits, these are the first criminal charges the department has brought against individuals related to the 1MDB scandal, according to the Wall Street Journal, which brought global attention to the scandal itself in 2015. Najib accuses the new administration of seeking political vengeance and has vowed to clear his name.

In June, anti-corruption investigators questioned Najib's wife about alleged theft and money-laundering.

Goldman has not yet responded to the indictments. In some cases, the names of shell companies operating the bank accounts mimicked the names of the rightful beneficiaries.

The bank says it is cooperating in the probe.

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"A few months after this chat, a bank account owned and controlled by Leissner and his relative was used to transfer approximately $4.1 million to a high-end NY jeweler, in part, to pay for gold jewelry for the wife of Malaysian Official #1".

USA prosecutors allege that Malaysian Low Taek Jho, usually known as Jho Low, was a central figure who orchestrated the ransacking of 1MDB. Prosecutors charge that Malaysian officials stole billions from the fund to buy property, art and other items including investments in movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street. The authorities have examined what role, if any, the firm played in the 1MDB fraud, whether it knew about the alleged fraud and whether it should have done more to uncover the misappropriation of funds. Singapore fined eight banks for failing to carry out proper anti-money laundering measures in relation to 1MDB and gave prison sentences to several bankers.

The Telegraph has contacted lawyers for Mr Low, who has been at large since July, and Mr Leissner but has not yet received a response.

Since the election, Malaysian authorities have brought 38 charges against Najib.

Has he or his team of prominent lawyers no confidence in the USA and Malaysian judiciary systems?

The Malaysian government is now seeking restitution from Goldman.

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