Azam: MACC’s cooperation with Kuwait led to Jho Low’s conviction

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The MACC has denied allegations that it had been uncooperative with Kuwaiti efforts to prosecute 1MDB-related crimes in the Gulf state.

Instead, its chief commissioner Azam Baki told Malaysiakini it has been working with Kuwaiti authorities since 2020 and remains open to continue doing so.

“This cooperation was crucial in helping Kuwait secure convictions against the fugitive tycoon, Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and four others on money laundering charges.

“Investigations are still being conducted by the MACC’s Anti-Money Laundering Division to recover the illegal proceeds,” said Azam.

In 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported that Malaysian investigators had uncovered a money trail from China to a Chinese bank in Kuwait and onward to a Cayman Islands entity controlled by Low.

The funds were used to pay nearly US$1 billion (RM4.4 billion) for Low-controlled assets in Malaysia, to pay some of the 1MDB debts.

As part of its investigation, Azam told Malaysiakini the MACC had in September 2021, through the Attorney General Chambers (AGC), applied for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) to obtain further information and relevant documents from the Kuwaiti government.

“The MLA document contains substantial information regarding the MACC investigation into the money trail of the case,” he added.

Further, Azam said the Kuwaiti authorities had then used information provided by Malaysia in the MLA request to assist in its own probe of the money trail.

“This resulted in the successful conviction of Jho Low, Bachar Kiwan and three other accomplices recently,” he added.

On Wednesday, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas reported that a sheikh, his partner and two foreigners have been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, while a lawyer was sentenced to seven years, on money laundering charges involving a Malaysian fund.

According to Al-Qabas, the five were accused of laundering Chinese currency equivalent to KD343,700,000 (RM4.95 billion), knowing they were illegal proceeds embezzled from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

The newspaper only identified the two foreigners as Low and Bachar – a Syrian-French businessperson who fled Kuwait to France – but did not name the Kuwaiti sheikh, his partner or the lawyer.

Whistleblower site Sarawak Report, however, identified the sheikh as Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, son of a former Kuwaiti prime minister.

His partner was identified as Low’s associate, Hamad Al Wazan and the lawyer as Saud Abdelmohsan.

Al-Qabas also reported that the case had been on hold for two years before being reopened because prosecutors faced hurdles in obtaining information from abroad.

The report did not describe the nature of those difficulties or who was involved, but Sarawak Report claims it points to a lack of cooperation from Malaysia.

Bachar, in an interview with Malaysiakini after his latest conviction, had also urged Malaysia to probe the alleged culpability of Gulf state officials in the 1MDB scandal. – Malaysiakini