Malaysia’s Anwar says in talks to return 1MDB fugitive Jho Low

Jho Low faces charges in Malaysia and the US for allegedly orchestrating theft of $4.5bn from wealth fund 1MDB.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim leaves the lower house of parliament after receiving a vote of confidence, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia December 19, 2022.
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim says negotiations are under way to secure the return of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho [File: Hasnoor Hussain/Reuters]

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has revealed his country is negotiating with authorities overseas to secure the return of the fugitive financier alleged to have masterminded the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal.

Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, faces charges in Malaysia and the United States for allegedly orchestrating the theft of $4.5bn from the Southeast Asian country’s sovereign wealth fund.

Billions of dollars of public funds were allegedly funnelled into luxury property, fine art, Hollywood films and bank accounts linked to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Anwar said Low’s return was being discussed through “diplomatic channels” and involved multiple countries.

“It involves many countries, it involves intelligence services, Interpol, et cetera,” Anwar told local media, without elaborating on the countries involved or Low’s whereabouts.

The Malaysian leader said the process was difficult but was quoted by the New Straits Times newspaper as saying other countries were “cooperating, staying in touch and providing their support”.

Asked to comment on whether China was involved, Anwar declined to comment, the New Straits Times reported.

Last month, Bradley Hope, an investigative journalist who helped expose the 1MDB corruption scandal, wrote in a blog post that China could repatriate Low in exchange for the Anwar administration allowing more Chinese investment in Malaysia.

Multiple countries including the US, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Singapore, have opened investigations into 1MDB.

Last month, Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel was found guilty by a jury in Washington, DC, of conspiring with Low to illegally influence the US government.

In March, Malaysia’s top court dismissed a bid by Najib to review his corruption conviction after a lower court found him guilty and sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies