Usually, fugitives lay low. But not fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low. Statements were issued in support of his position by not one, but two public relations firm in two different continents last Friday.
First, there was a statement by a mystery spokesman, through Jho Low’s attorneys, via Sydney-based Wells Haslem Mayhew, condemning Malaysia’s plan to auction the superyacht Equanimity as an “illegal and costly act”. Then, London-based Byfield Consultancy issued a statement on behalf of Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd, which claims to be the owner of the vessel, which was seized by the Malaysian government on the grounds that it was bought using money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The money trail of funds used to buy Equanimity is well-documented in the US Department of Justice’s asset seizure filing against kleptocracy as well as Malaysia’s court filings to seize the yacht.
Thanks to the hard work of local officials, including those in the Attorney-General’s Chambers as well as the Commercial Crime Investigation Department, Jho Low and his father were finally charged (albeit in absentia) in court under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 in connection with 1MDB. Malaysia filed a “red notice” application with Interpol last Friday to seek assistance from foreign law enforcement agencies to arrest and extradite Jho Low and his father to Malaysia to face trial. It remains to be seen if Malaysia will have more luck than Singapore, which has had an Interpol red notice on Jho Low since 2016.
But shouldn’t law enforcement agencies worldwide be insulted that a fugitive should be so bold? Is Hollywood to blame for the expectation that Jho Low should already have been found by now by super agents? Are the attorneys, mystery spokesperson and public relations firms unable to offer any clue as to his whereabouts?
Just like how white-collar investigators and investigative journalists in several countries uncovered the massive money laundering linked to 1MDB, will international law enforcement personnel help Malaysians find Jho Low?