Jho Low rubbishes WSJ’s 1MDB bailout offer claim, blames Dr M — report

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 10, 2019.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) has dismissed The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report claiming that he had a role in facilitating deals with China to bail out 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in 2016 in exchange for lucrative contracts.

An online portal yesterday reported that Jho Low, in a statement from his spokesman issued through his lawyers, said the article contained “half-truths” and blamed Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration for it.

“The Wall Street Journal’s latest story is simply a continuation of the Mahathir regime’s trial by media.

“The article is a selection of half-truths, mixed in with fiction, to create a misleading and oversimplified narrative that has been peddled by a morally bankrupt Mahathir regime to advance its failing political cause,” the statement said.

Jho Low also said the claims in the article were unsubstantiated and politically motivated accusations.

“Extraordinary and serious claims require extraordinary evidence and the Mahathir regime has failed to provide any legitimate evidence to support these politically motivated accusations.

“It is the journalistic responsibility of The Wall Street Journal to have approached such claims with scepticism and suspicion, and it is unfortunate that these baseless political accusations are passed off as legitimate reporting,” he added.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Chinese officials yesterday had denied the WSJ report.

“There has not been such a thing,” Najib said in a statement posted on his Facebook account yesterday, further dismissing the claim that the Chinese had offered to bug the homes and offices of WSJ reporters in Hong Kong who were investigating 1MDB.

Citing minutes from a series of previously undisclosed meetings it reviewed, WSJ reported on Monday that Chinese officials told visiting Malaysians that Beijing would use its influence to try to get the US and other countries to drop their probes of allegations that allies of then prime minister Najib and others plundered 1MDB.

In return, WSJ said, Malaysia offered lucrative stakes in railway and pipeline projects for China’s One Belt, One Road programme of building infrastructure abroad, and within months, Najib had signed US$34 billion worth of rail, pipeline and other deals with Chinese state companies, to be funded by Chinese banks and built by Chinese workers.

The deals include the East Coast Rail Link and Trans Sabah Gas Pipeline projects, which were reportedly to be financed at above-market values to generate excess cash for other needs.

The bailout claim is reported by journalists Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, who had previously won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the 1MDB scandal, and had also authored the book Billion Dollar Whale, detailing Jho Low’s alleged role in the scandal.

As of today, Jho Low has denied all wrongdoings, while Najib has claimed trial to 1MDB-related criminal charges against him.