LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 10am

1MDB & Jho Low: A World Class Scandal?

If you’ve ever seen the 2013 movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” which starred Hollywood heavyweight Leonardo DiCaprio, and directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, you’ll know that it tells the true story of how stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who staged detailed corruption and fraud schemes that transformed him into a multi-billionaire.

You’ve also probably know by now that during the film credits, there is a special “thank you” acknowledgement towards a Jho Low – the Malaysian billionaire rumoured to be the true person who financed the movie.

Ironically just like The Wolf of Wall Street, Low currently finds himself in a media storm involving a scandal where it is alleged that he managed to siphon billions of ringgit from Malaysia’s state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). In fact, UK-based whistle-blower site, Sarawak Report, which was the first to expose the scandal, has gone as far as labelling it as the “Heist of the Century”.

On Saturday, the site together with London’s Sunday Times newspaper released an in-depth investigation into the trail of 1MDB’s alleged missing billions. The seven-series report exposed and featured detailed documents, email conversations, and Facebook statuses that outlined Low’s involvement in the scandal.

Yesterday, both 1MDB and PetroSaudi International, the privately-owned oil exploration and production company named by Sarawak Report in its article to be involved in the scandal, has refuted the allegations of siphoned funds.

"Upon 1MDB's exit, PetroSaudi had paid 1MDB in full and both parties no longer have any financial or legal relationship," a statement from PetroSaudi said.

1MDB president and group executive director, Arul Kanda Kandasamy meanwhile said, “1MDB notes with concern certain claims carried by an online media portal concerning business arrangements 1MDB entered into with PetroSaudi. 1MDB exited the relationship in 2012, and received back its investment in full, with a profit of US$488m (RM1.77 billion).”

This isn’t the first time that Low has been featured prominently in the international media. Early in February, the New York Times ran a series on how some dodgy global money has fuelled the city’s real estate boom. One article of the series was focused on Low himself.

Petaling Jaya MP Tony Pua, who has been questioning 1MDB in Parliament since 2010, says the explosive exposes made by Sarawak Report is vindication that an elaborate scam exists within 1MDB.

“The pursuit of 1MDB now enters a new phase. It is the phase to make the robbers, and those who abetted them, pay for their brazen crimes. The journey has far from ended, and I will do my best as your Member of Parliament together with my colleages and limited means, to bring the crooks to book in the coming months (or years),” he said in a Facebook status update.

In the Wolf of Wall Street, Belfort’s fraudulent schemes were eventually busted. Now with the eyes on the world putting 1MDB under a microscope, will the same fate fall upon Jho Low?


- mD