KUALA LUMPUR: A fugitive financier being hunted by Malaysian authorities over his role in the country's multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal is hiding in the Chinese territory of Macau, Malaysian police said Wednesday (Jul 29).
Low Taek Jho, commonly known as Jho Low, is accused of being the mastermind behind the theft of billions looted from sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
The money was used to buy everything from a yacht to art in a fraud case that allegedly also involved former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
READ: Former Malaysia PM Najib Razak sentenced to 12 years in jail following guilty verdict in 1MDB trial
Malaysian police chief Abdul Hamid Bador said Low was in the semi-autonomous Chinese casino hub of Macau, but speculation about his whereabouts has previously placed him in various countries from the United Arab Emirates to mainland China.
"He is there with all the filthy money," Abdul Hamid told AFP in a text message.
Asked why he had chosen to reveal Low's location now, the police chief said allegations had been made that officers were "purposely slowing down on the effort to bring him to justice".
Macau authorities said in 2018 they had received a request from the Malaysian government concerning Low but gave no further details.
Charged in both Malaysia and the United States over the 1MDB scandal, Low has been accused by Najib's lawyers of being the mastermind behind the scam and tricking the former premier.
Najib, who founded 1MDB, was on Tuesday sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined almost US$50 million on corruption charges relating to the scandal, which contributed to the downfall of his government in 2018.
The former leader is still to face the conclusion of a second trial that began in August last year centred on allegations he illicitly obtained more than US$500 million.
CHINA REJECTS ACCUSATIONS
China on Wednesday denied protecting Low, labelling Abdul Hamid's accusations that Chinese authorities "appeared insincere" as "groundless and unacceptable", adding that the police had investigated all possible leads but were unable to trace Low.
"The position of the Chinese government on combating crime is consistent and clear-cut," the Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpur said in a statement. "China does not and will never shelter foreign criminals."
The embassy added that China would continue to give support and assistance to Malaysia in its investigations.