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Malaysia in transition

Malaysia to charge Jho Low over 1MDB scandal in absentia: reports

Alleged mastermind financier still at large and sought for role in $4.5bn theft

Jho Low in 2014. The Malaysian businessman is charged with mastermind behind a $4.5 billion theft from state fund 1MDB.   © Scott Roth/Invision/AP

SINGAPORE -- Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, the alleged mastermind behind the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad embezzlement scandal, will be charged in absentia at a Malaysian court on Tuesday, local media  reported.

Four other individuals will also be charged, according to the reports, some of which were carried by state-owned Bernama.

According to U.S. court documents, Low engaged in money laundering between 2009 and 2011, during which time he received money from 1MDB.

Low was close to former Prime Minister Najib Razak, and is said to be the mastermind behind the alleged theft of $4.5 billion from 1MDB. Najib, who lost power in May general elections, was later charged for money laundering among other accounts.

Malaysia has already charged Low once in August for money laundering. Low has maintained his innocence.

The financier is wanted by the authorities in several countries including Malaysia and the U.S., but his whereabouts is unknown. He is believed to be hiding either in China or the United Arab Emirates.

Last month U.S. authorities filed charges against Low and two former Goldman Sachs bankers accused of laundering billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB.

New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's government, in cooperation with several countries, has focused on the investigations over the scandal since his victory in the May election.

The Malaysian Immigration Department revoked Low's passport at the request of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission following its investigations into the scandal.

In late November, the government ousted the chairman of a state-owned Bank Rakyat, following a report that revealed the chairman's involvement in concealing Low's role in the 1MDB matter.

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