Billion Dollar Whale co-author: Time is up for Jho Low

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Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, could be running out of options to evade justice according to Bradley Hope, the co-author of a book on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

In an article from his weekly newsletter ‘Whale Hunting’ which was shared on his Twitter account, Hope said the latest insight was based on tip-offs from sources saying “time is up” for Jho Low, who has been on the run for five years.

Hope said Jho Low, an “asset of the Chinese intelligence service” who has lived in Hong Kong and Macau while under investigation by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), may lose his “protected” status as a result.

He said the man has gone from being a “strategic intelligence asset” of China to a “liability”.

“Without protection from China, it’s hard to imagine where Jho Low could go. Possibly the UAE (United Arab Emirates), which still has secrets related to the 1MDB case it would rather keep hidden. However, they have their hands full with oligarchs and kleptocrats setting up new bases in their luxury towers. Slowly but surely, the range of options and sphere of safety seems to be closing in.

“In the latest Whale Hunting effort, together with a correspondent in Taiwan, we managed to kickstart an investigation into a company he opened there two years after the FBI started hunting him down,” read the article dated Jan 17.

Jho Low, who has been charged in Malaysia and the US over allegations that he orchestrated the theft of US$4.5 billion from 1MDB, is believed to be currently in Macau, although Beijing has denied protecting him.

Hope claimed China’s current stand is that Jho Low and a “rogue intelligence agent”, Sun Lijun, had worked for “their own corrupt goals”.

With investigations completed, the Chinese authorities are ready to hand Jho Low and his assets over to Malaysia, he said.

If this happens, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim could well be the prime minister who brings a close to the case.

“Anwar might agree that getting Jho Low back is a major political win that allows him to recover huge amounts of money for Malaysia while finally closing the door on the 1MDB chapter,” Hope was quoted as saying.

He claimed Malaysia’s past prime ministers – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – were more focused on former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak rather than Jho Low, while Umno leaders “would rather everyone forget about 1MDB altogether”.

Hope said Jho Low turned into a liability after Barisan Nasional lost in the 2018 general election.

“He wasn’t useful anymore, but his arrest would be a risk to China’s reputation because who knows what Jho Low learned over the years working with the intelligence apparatus and any other funny deals he cooked up.”

Hope’s book titled “The Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World”, which he co-wrote with Tom Wright, chronicles the 1MDB corruption scandal and depicts Jho Low as the alleged mastermind. – NST