KUALA LUMPUR: Low Taek Jho, a key figure wanted by investigators of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, told associates that he “felt safe” earlier this year as he was protected by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported.
Quoting a source, the WSJ said Low, better known as Jho Low, has reached out to the authorities, offering to drop his claim to more than US$1 billion in assets in return for immunity from criminal prosecution following Najib’s unexpected defeat in the 14th general election.
Since the May 9 poll, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has raided residences linked to Najib and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor; and summoned both for questioning over SRC International, 1MDB’s former subsidiary.
The WSJ said the election defeat was a blow to Low, which prompted him to reach out to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s office recently, with the offer to stop fighting for control of assets in return for immunity from prosecution.
However, Mahathir rejected the offer, which was communicated via an intermediary, the WSJ said.
In an interview on Thursday, Mahathir told the WSJ that it would be legally difficult to absolve Low of responsibility for the 1MDB scandal in return for his cooperation in tracking down where the money went.
“I’m quite sure the kind of incentive he would readily accept is that he would not be prosecuted.
“But we can’t do that. It’s against the law. The law does not provide for what American law provides – plea bargaining and all that,” Mahathir was quoted as saying.
He stressed that the investigation into what happened at 1MDB is gaining traction.
“The ultimate goal is for prosecutors to charge Najib if there is enough evidence to warrant it, but the process will take time.
“Until they find concrete evidence that will stand up in a court of law, they won’t be able to do anything,” he added.
It was reported that Low told the MACC, through his lawyers, that he is prepared to meet with investigators in Dubai.
But the date for the meeting has not been set.
Low’s lawyers are from Kobre & Kim, a New York-based firm that specialises in cross-border investigations and disputes.
The WSJ also reported that Malaysia does not have an extradition treaty with China, but has been using back-channel communications with Beijing to seek Low’s return to Malaysia.
According to the report, Low is living in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China.
The WSJ’s attempts to contact Low and Najib for comment were unsuccessful.
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