Frankly Speaking: Hunt for 1MDB fugitives turning out to be a joke

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on November 22, 2021 - November 28, 2021.
Frankly Speaking: Hunt for 1MDB fugitives turning out to be a joke
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Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said last week that the ministry does not have any information on the whereabouts of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho (or Jho Low). Low is wanted by the authorities not only in Malaysia, but also Singapore and the US for his role in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

Given the magnitude of the theft — said to be the largest corruption scandal in the world — it is imperative for the government to find not only Low but other 1MDB fugitives, including its former finance director Terence Geh Choh Heng, former executive director Casey Tang Keng Chee and former general counsel Jasmine Loo, as well as former SRC International Sdn Bhd CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and Low’s sidekick, Eric Tan Kim Loong. It has been three years since warrants of arrest were issued against the six following charges filed against them in absentia in 2018.

Are the Malaysian government and Royal Malaysian Police serious about capturing them? Has the trail gone so cold or did these people just disappear?

Tang is described as “1MDB officer 1” in the US Department of Justice (DoJ) document, having played a role in misleading banks in the transfer of US$700 million to Good Star Ltd, a company controlled by Low.

A judgment in default has also been entered against Nik Faisal in SRC International’s US$1.18 billion (RM4 billion) lawsuit against him and several others, including former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak. They are not mere pawns in the 1MDB scandal, in which the DoJ said US$4.5 billion had been stolen from the Malaysian people.

The testimonies of the six will be crucial to ongoing efforts in various courts to get to the bottom of the matter so that thievery on such a scale will not be repeated.

While the government has collected RM20.53 billion of 1MDB funds so far, it is imperative that those charged with defrauding the country be brought to justice. Surely, more efforts must be made to find them and bring them home to clear their names or face the music.

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