ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Politics

Fugitive financier Jho Low denies being 1MDB 'mastermind'

Malaysian businessman says charges against him are politically motivated

Low, who has not divulged his current location, faces charges in the U.S. and Malaysia for allegedly helping defraud up to $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad. (Nikkei montage/ Source photo by Getty images) 

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- Fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho has said he only acted as an intermediary for deals involving 1MDB, denying in an interview published on Monday that he had set the stage for the theft of billions of dollars from the Malaysian state fund.

Low faces charges in the United States and Malaysia for his alleged central role in defrauding up to $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), founded by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and the subject of the U.S. Department of Justice's largest ever anti-kleptocracy case.

Low, or Jho Low as he is popularly known, has consistently denied wrongdoing and says the charges against him are politically motivated.

"People and companies act as introducers or intermediaries all the time," Low said in an interview with Singapore's Straits Times.

"This is not a unique situation. I was requested to assist because of my good relationships with influential foreign businessmen and decision makers."

A spokesman for Low did not immediately respond to a request for additional comments.

To a question on why he has remained on the run, Low said the Malaysian government has victimised him and his family, ignoring "basic human rights and fair judicial processes" by branding him as the mastermind behind the scandal.

Malaysia's prime minister's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Low said his "professional connections" had helped Malaysia build strong ties with key allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, boosting Haj pilgrimage quotas for Malaysian Muslims and investments in financial, real estate and other sectors in the Southeast Asian country.

Low declined to divulge his current location but confirmed he was offered asylum in August last year. He did not name the country offering asylum.

In November, U.S. authorities struck a deal with Low to recoup $1 billion in funds allegedly looted from 1MDB, which included a private jet, high-end real estate in Beverly Hills, New York and London, and other assets.

The deal does not include an admission of guilt or wrongdoing and is not tied to the criminal action against Low.

Low - who said he has had "multiple brushes with cancer" - said he now plans to focus on investing in cutting-edge cancer research.

"I would cherish the opportunity to reinvigorate my philanthropic efforts and to give back to the community and help others in any way I can."

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media