The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) has called on Malaysian authorities to arrest and prosecute Penang-born billionaire Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.
This followed revelations of new facts in relation to Low’s role in the movement of 1MDB-linked funds during the prosecution of Falcon Private Bank branch manager Jens Sturzenegger in the Singapore court.
“In light of these facts, C4 urges the attorney-general to arrest and prosecute Jho Low based on the revelation in the Singapore court which revealed that he hid behind the name ‘Eric Tan’ to mask the fact that he is the beneficiary of this blatant massive theft of public funds,” said its executive director Cynthia Gabriel.
Sturzenegger pleaded guilty to six charges of failing to flag money-laundering activities and lying to Singapore authorities and was sentenced to 28 weeks in jail and a S$128,000 fine.
The Singapore case revealed that Low used the alias “Eric Tan” as the beneficiary of companies holding bank accounts at Falcon Private Bank including Tanore Finance Corporation and Granton Property Holdings.
According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), US$835 million of 1MDB funds was diverted to Tanore Finance and subsequently US$681 million was transferred to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s bank accounts.
“This damning revelation as to the real identity of Eric Tan and the suspicious transactions involving a massive amount of funds demonstrate collusion between Jho Low and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak,” charged Gabriel.
Najib claimed the massive deposits he received was a donation from a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family and had denied taking public funds for personal gain.
Gabriel also noted that Low’s family was attempting to block the authorities’ seizure of NZ$230 million in assets allegedly acquired using 1MDB-linked funds in New Zealand.
A similar effort was being mounted in the US court over assets in that country.
“C4 is aghast at Jho Low’s temerity in going out of his way, including using his family members, to ward off attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice,” she said.
Gabriel called for the 1MDB investigation in Malaysia to be reopened.
She added that authorities needed to scrutinise fund transfers between Low and the prime minister, including the US$681 million and the US$620 million which Najib subsequently transferred back to Tanore.
Attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali, who cleared Najib of wrongdoing, claimed the US$620 million was returned to the Arab donor.
Gabriel said the attorney-general also needed to review his decision to reject the Swiss Attorney-General’s request for mutual legal assistance in relation to the 1MDB scandal.
“C4 reiterates that as a state party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (Uncac), Malaysia has an obligation under Articles 43 and 44 of the Uncac to cooperate with other state parties in the fight against corruption.
“In light of Malaysia’s international obligation under articles 43 and 44 of the Uncac, it is imperative for the AG to extend full cooperation to Switzerland and other countries that are currently investigating the 1MDB corruption scandal,” she said.
The 1MDB scandal is the subject of investigations in several international jurisdictions including Singapore, US, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.