Malaysian officials believe China has been harboring one of the world’s most-wanted financial fugitives, the financier the U.S. Justice Department alleges is at the center of the $4.5 billion theft from a Malaysian development fund.
Requests from Singapore and Malaysia for authorities in China to hand over Low Taek Jho have met with little response, leading police in both countries to believe that Beijing is protecting the fugitive businessman, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.
It said Low, better known as Jho Low, could be China’s “bargaining chip” as Dr Mahathir Mohamad leaves today for a highly anticipated official visit to China on the back of a freeze on billions of dollars of Chinese investments in Malaysia.
The paper, quoting someone who is “aware” of Jho Low’s movements, said the businessman who is wanted over a multi-billion dollar corruption investigation linked to 1MDB, had been living freely in China despite a red notice alert issued by Interpol to track him.
Malaysian police have been seriously pursuing Jho Low since the change of government in May.
WSJ reported that Malaysia sent a police team in June to search for him in Hong Kong and Macau.
“Both times, local authorities told them he had just flown out,” the paper said, quoting Malaysian police. “Several Malaysian officials say they believe he is now being harboured in mainland China after helping the country with business deals and diplomacy as the 1MDB scandal blew up.”
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun has several times suggested that Malaysian police are in the dark over the whereabouts of Jho Low, despite reports that he was in Macau.
“Some say he is in China, so we called our Chinese counterparts, but they could not find him either,” Fuzi told reporters on Monday.
The Malaysian government has cancelled Jho Low’s Malaysian passport. He has been accused of embezzling billions of dollars from 1MDB, and a RM1 billion yacht called the Equanimity that was linked to him is now detained in Malaysian waters.
Title from WSJ