1MDB probe casts light on several key players

http://www.straitstimes.com/

Several figures stood out in the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit to recover over US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) in assets it says were illegally siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). They are:

Low Taek Jho

The businessman better known as Jho Low is said to be a confidant of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and helped set up a fund that evolved into 1MDB in 2009 when he became prime minister.

The DOJ said he bought luxury homes and a “substantial” stake in EMI, the world’s third-largest music publishing company by revenue, from looted 1MDB funds.

Mr Low, 34, also bought works of art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, which were seized yesterday by the Swiss authorities.

Mr Low, who for many years ran a business out of Hong Kong, has yet to respond to the lawsuit. When The Straits Times visited his office at the Agricultural Bank of China building in the Central district yesterday, an employee would not say where he was.

It has been said that Mr Low could be in Taiwan or China, neither of which has extradition treaties with the US. Hong Kong signed an extradition pact with the US in 1996.

Riza Aziz

He is the eldest son of Datuk Seri Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor, from a previous marriage.

Mr Riza, 39, was a banker in London before moving to the US. He bought expensive homes in the US and London, using US$94.3 million in funds that he told investigators were a “gift”, the DOJ said. It said he co-founded Red Granite Pictures which funded the movie The Wolf Of Wall Street using 1MDB cash.

Red Granite yesterday denied that its funds were obtained illegitimately. There has been no response as yet from Mr Riza, who was last seen in public at a Kuala Lumpur charity event in May.

In the civil suit, Mr Riza was named as one of the individuals who gambled in a Las Vegas casino with Mr Low and a Hollywood actor, believed to be Leonardo DiCaprio. They spent over US$1.1 million during the visit in July 2012.

Eric Tan Kim Loong

The Malaysian is an associate of Mr Low. He was the stated beneficial owner of several bank accounts into which “misappropriated 1MDB funds were transferred”, according to the suit.

‘Malaysian Official 1’

The US court document described the person as “a high-ranking official in the Malaysian government who also held a position of authority with 1MDB”. He is also listed as a relative of Mr Riza. The DOJ believes an AmBank account that received US$681 million in March 2013 belongs to this official.

US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch declined to confirm at a press conference if he was Mr Najib.

Khadem Al Qubaisi

The United Arab Emirates national was managing director of the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), an investment fund owned by Abu Dhabi, and was chairman of Aabar Investments PJS, an IPIC subsidiary.

IPIC and Aabar were involved with 1MDB’s bond deals from 2012.

The DOJ said Mr Qubaisi, 44, bought a New York penthouse and Beverly Hills properties with 1MDB funds.

Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny

The 53-year-old US citizen was chief executive of Aabar Investments PJS from 2010 to last year.

Mr Husseiny, the suit said, bought a townhouse in upscale Belgravia in London.