KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities are investigating claims that fugitive businessman Jho Low is in possession of a Cyprus passport, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said on Monday (Nov 4).
A report from Greek-language newspaper Politis said that Low had obtained the passport in 2015, aided by citizenship and passport broker Henley & Partners.
However, Henley & Partners later denied this, saying that when Low approached the firm in 2015, it declined to represent him.
The Politis report, reproduced in English by Malaysian publication Sarawak Report on Sunday, alleged that Low arrived in Cyprus in September 2015 and obtained the passport two days later through the Cyprus Investment Plan.
The scheme requires an interested party to deposit €5 million (US$5.6 million) in a local bank for three years and allows them to buy a house.
The report also claimed Low had commissioned €5 million mansion on the island, due for completion and delivery within two months.
“We received information that he exploited them (Cyprus) because they need money to boost their economy,” he said during an event.
Abdul Hamid told members of the press that certain countries’ offer of asylum to Low is an “irresponsible action”.
These countries had also refused to cooperate with Malaysia, making it difficult for authorities to perform their duties, he added.
“We have sought the countries’ cooperation to send (Jho Low) back, but he seems to get a kind of immunity and protection from the authorities in those countries,” the police chief said.
“We have tried various approaches, but they are giving us various excuses to the extent of saying that he had undergone facial plastic surgery."
The jet-setting businessman allegedly played a key role in the 1MDB scandal, which has also been linked to former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
Low's whereabouts remain unknown.
He struck a deal recently with the US Justice Department to give up a private jet, real estate holdings and other assets totalling US$700 million. However, it did not include an admission of guilt and is not linked to criminal action against him.
Low’s spokesman last week said that the fugitive businessman had been offered asylum in the Middle East.
Malaysia's police chief added that authorities would continue in their pursuit to bring Low back to Malaysia.
“I’m still using the usual approach and willing to cooperate with the countries involved. Whatever their terms are, I’m willing to listen, but what’s important is that the criminal must be returned to us.”
He told media that no country should protect a criminal just because of previous political ties.
“This is a crime, (Low) robbed a country of its money and given asylum in another,” he said.