Did You Know
Did You Know
Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho - more commonly known as Jho Low - was active in the now virus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan, according to Malaysia's police chief.
"We previously received intelligence that he was hiding in Wuhan," Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador told reporters at a Wednesday press conference, adding that there was no new information on whether Low had left the city following the Covid-19 outbreak.
He went on to quip that if Low, who is wanted in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal, "happens to get the virus", he should "come to Malaysia, our health facilities are the best so far as nine patients have recovered to date".
Abdul Hamid, who had previously promised to bring Low back to Malaysia by Christmas last year, also insisted that he was on Interpol's Red List but not on the public listing.
"[Low is] the second category, only available to the enforcement agencies for action to be taken," he said.
The national police chief told the press late last year that the manhunt for Low had been scuppered by "dishonest" foreign state authorities who were protecting the fugitive.
"Among the excuses they gave include Jho Low apparently having changed his looks by undergoing facial surgery to look like a bear," he said at the time. "Sometimes when he walks, he looks like a [bear]. So when we look at him from behind, that is how he looks. Do you think this excuse [given by the authorities of the country Jho Low is hiding in] is logical?"
Low, who is wanted in several jurisdictions, has been on the run for more than a year. He is believed to have been hopping from one nation to another to evade the authorities while the man the Malaysian government has pinpointed as his co-conspirator - former prime minister Najib Razak - is on trial for more than 40 counts of graft and abuse of power.
The pilfered 1MDB funds - totalling some US$4.5 billion (S$6.3 billion) according to the United States and up to US$7 billion according to the administration of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad - were allegedly used to fund Hollywood films, purchase designer jewellery and handbags as well as paintings by Monet and Basquiat, and throw A-list celebrity parties.
Low's US$250 million superyacht Equanimity - which has since been seized, sold and renamed Tranquillity by its new owners - was also allegedly bought with the stolen money.
Low was long thought to have been hiding in China, although more recently it was discovered that he owned a now-revoked Cypriot passport received through an investment-for-citizenship scheme. The Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis has also revoked a passport issued to Low.
It is also believed that Low is circulating through the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and his spokespeople have said he is in a country that "acts in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights" - a statement that came soon after Low in October caved to the US Department of Justice and agreed to return assets worth over US$700 million, including a private jet.
Meanwhile, Najib's corruption trial is ongoing, as is that of his wife Rosmah Mansor. The legal proceedings of the erstwhile power couple have turned up new revelations about alleged bribes, expedited government tenders and gifts of luxury watches.
During Najib's trial, witnesses and Najib's defence team have also described Low as a "puppet master" and "master manipulator".
Low has maintained his innocence, and his legal team have said he never held a formal position at 1MDB and had never been employed by the Malaysian government.