Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Jho Low, SRC International director

Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Jho Low, SRC International director

Jho Low speech
Jho Low speaks onstage during Angel Ball 2014 hosted by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street on Oct 20, 2014 in New York City. (Photo: AFP)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for financier Low Taek Jho, wanted for questioning in a graft probe involving former prime minister Najib Razak and state fund 1MDB, a media report and a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday (Jun 7).

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has issued a warrant for Jho Low, as he is popularly known, and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, a director of SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The authorities are also preparing warrants for Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker, and 1MDB's ex-chief, Shahrol Halmi, Bloomberg said.

A source familiar with the matter confirmed the Bloomberg report and said anti-graft investigators are reaching out to Low's lawyers to get him to come to Malaysia to give his statement.

"We know roughly where he is and efforts are being made to reach out to authorities in the countries where we believe he may be," the source said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The anti-graft agency, a lawyer for Low and Shahrol did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative of MACC declined to comment to Bloomberg.

Reuters was unable to reach Ng and Nik Faisal immediately.

Bloomberg said the four individuals had not been charged with wrongdoing, and it was not clear what suspicions underpinned the warrants.

1MDB is the subject of money-laundering probes in at least six countries, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore.

The US Department of Justice has alleged that more than US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, and about US$700 million of that went to Najib's personal bank accounts.

Najib, who founded 1MDB in 2009, has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Low was regarded as close to Najib and his family and is seen as a central figure in the 1MDB affair, having allegedly advised on investments and negotiated deals, though he never held any official role in the fund.

Earlier on Thursday, MACC issued a notice for Low and Nik Faisal to contact it immediately to help in its investigation. Low, through his lawyers, said he would cooperate.

Empowered by a new government elected last month, the agency has relaunched a probe into why US$10.6 million from SRC was transferred into Najib's bank account.

Anti-graft agents have questioned both Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, following his shock election defeat last month to former mentor-turned-foe Mahathir Mohamad.

Goldman Sachs had helped 1MDB raise US$6.5 billion in three bond sales in 2012 and 2013 to invest in energy projects and real estate to boost the Malaysian economy.

Instead, more than US$2.5 billion raised from those bonds was misappropriated and used to buy artwork, luxury properties in New York and London and to pay off gambling debts in Las Vegas, the US Justice Department has alleged.

The bank said in November it had received requests from "various government bodies" and was cooperating, Bloomberg said.

Source: Reuters/aa