Malaysian playboy financier in cross-hairs after poll upset

Published May 27, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By (AFP)

Kuala Lumpur – Baby-faced playboy Jho Low, a financier at the centre of Malaysia’s 1MDB mega-scandal, may find his days of hobnobbing with celebrities and splurging on property and art are numbered as the new government pledges to bring him to justice.

Suspected of being a key figure in one of the world’s biggest frauds along with ousted leader Najib Razak and his cronies, the chubby, bespectacled businessman has become a lightning rod for public fury at the controversy.

He led a high-rolling lifestyle after allegedly stealing huge sums from 1MDB. He hung out with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, partied with Paris Hilton, and reportedly spent vast sums in New York’s hottest nightspots.

As investigations into the controversy accelerated, the Malaysian took to a luxury yacht allegedly bought with stolen cash and sailed around Asia, until the vessel was seized off Bali recently as part of 1MDB-linked probes.

The Wall Street Journal reported that he was on the Thai holiday island of Phuket earlier this month awaiting the election results. His current whereabouts are unclear.

But time could be running out for the flamboyant 36-year-old after Najib’s scandal-mired coalition suffered a shock defeat at the May 9 poll in large part due to public anger at 1MDB.

The new government, headed by Najib’s ex-mentor Mahathir Mohamad, has reopened probes into the sophisticated fraud and wants to haul Jho Low – whose full name is Low Taek Jho – back to Malaysia.

Abdul Razak Idris, a former senior officer from the anti-graft agency which led probes into the scandal until they were shut down under Najib, said he believed Low was the mastermind.

”He must be arrested and brought back to Malaysia so that we can bring back all the money parked abroad,” he told AFP.

Low, who held no official positions at 1MDB but is believed to have exerted great influence over the fund, has previously denied any wrongdoing. He could not be contacted for this article.

 
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