“All these ultimately were loans, directly or indirectly, but ultimately, I think the time has come — we want to assist in repatriating these assets back in return for cooperating and moving on with life without, you know, being prosecuted.” — Jho Low
KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 17): “I don’t believe there’s any wrongdoing,” Low Taek Jho, the alleged mastermind behind the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scam, was quoted by Qatari state-owned news channel Al Jazeera as claiming in a series of telephone conversations he had with the former Malaysian government, led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Al Jazeera reported yesterday that Low, widely known as Jho Low, suggested that he merely borrowed the billions of ringgit from 1MDB to buy himself, among other things, luxury real estate around the world, art masterpieces, a private jet and a mega-yacht, not to mention millions of dollars worth of Cristal champagne.
“All these ultimately were loans, directly or indirectly, but ultimately, I think the time has come — we want to assist in repatriating these assets back in return for cooperating and moving on with life without, you know, being prosecuted,” Jho Low was quoted as saying.
Al Jazeera claimed that the conversations took place in the weeks and months immediately after the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s landslide victory against ex-prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration in May 2018.
"In them (the conversations), the fugitive (Jho Low) betrays fellow conspirators, offering others, also on the run, as potential witnesses in 1MDB-related cases, and complains about the mounting cost of legal representation. His sense of entitlement and lack of remorse are on full display,” Al Jazeera claimed.
It was reported that Jho Low put the blame for the 1MDB heist firmly on Najib, who was also the finance minister at the time money was stolen from the sovereign wealth fund.
Jho Low claimed: “I had no authority to make any decision … it’s a pretty known fact that … all the approvals had to be approved by the minister of finance.”
It was reported that Jho Low supported the findings of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) that most of the more than US$1 billion (about RM4.11 billion) that arrived in Najib’s personal bank accounts was from 1MDB and not a gift from Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah — as Najib continued to claim.
“The reality is, it is true that King Abdullah actually agreed to give [a] donation to the PM (prime minister), but that was a small portion of a larger portion,” Jho Low claimed.
It was reported that perhaps the most stunning claim that Jho Low made about Najib was the amount of 1MDB money spent on jewellery for the former prime minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
The DOJ reportedly documented in detail Jho Low’s purchase of a US$27 million pink diamond for Rosmah, but according to Jho Low, there was a lot more bought for her.
According to the report, Jho Low claimed that “north of half a billion dollars” worth of jewellery were bought for Rosmah using 1MDB money.
“That was a huge amount,” the fugitive businessman said.
At the time of writing this theedgemarkets.com report, Najib had not issued a statement in response to Jho Low’s claims.