Dr M Says Don’t Know Where Jho Low Is, IGP Says on an Island

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Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Putrajaya did not know the whereabouts of Jho Low and as such, was not holding direct negotiations with the fugitive businessperson.

This contradicts claims made by Mahathir as well as Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador and others who have repeatedly claimed to know Low’s location.

Mahathir made the claim during an interview with the Financial Times (FT), published online today, at the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Bangkok.

The interviewer, FT’s Singapore and Malaysia correspondent Stefania Palma, had asked him if Malaysia was conducting its own negotiations with Low directly to retrieve 1MDB-linked assets.

FT

“No (negotiations with Low). We have no contact with him. We don’t even know where he is,” Mahathir said.

He also did not respond directly when asked if Low’s deal with the US – which would bring the Department of Justice’s total retrieval of assets and funds linked to the scandal to over U$$1 billion – came as a surprise.

“Well, the amount (allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB by Low) is much bigger. This is only a part of the money made used of by Jho Low to buy properties […] so we are still going after the rest of the money.”

The US deal, however, does not release Low and his family of any criminal culpability in the scandal.

In June, last year, Mahathir stated Malaysia did not have extradition arrangements in the country in which Low is believed to be hiding.

Mahathir’s close advisor, Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairperson Daim Zainuddin, too, claimed last year that authorities here were in the know as to Low’s whereabouts and that Low had contacted his officers seeking a deal for immunity in exchange for his locating 1MDB-linked assets.

In recent days, it has been reported that Low, who is on the lam to evade charges in the US and Malaysia on 1MDB, had secured a Cyprus citizenship.

Hamid reasoned that it was unlikely Low would be in the Mediterranean island since he would stand out among the locals due to his Chinese Malaysian features.

“He would have been very recognisable,” he was quoted as saying.

He said Bukit Aman only found out about Low’s real estate purchases in Cyprus three to four weeks ago.

This was after the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Prevention (AMLA) division arrested several individuals.

“From these arrests, we have successfully deconstructed and obtained information that Jho Low was attempting to purchase properties under a different alias in Cyprus,” he said.

It was also claimed Low was hiding out in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has also been denied by Hamid.

He reiterated that Low is still seeking refuge in the same country he was before where he is protected by certain powerful people.

“I have said before, it is impossible for him to leave the country he is hiding in with ease. He is still there hiding, like a chicken,” he was reported as stating.

Hamid did not name the country, but he revealed that Low is believed to be “on an island”.

“I’m using a lot of ways to bring him back, not just official […] semi-official ways as well.

“My patience has limits when I’m negotiating with the said country because we gave them our full cooperation in all issues on policing.

“I’m extremely disappointed when my request isn’t entertained, and they give excuses like ‘he went through plastic surgery’, ‘he has left and gone to Cyprus’ or ‘he has gone to UAE’, which doesn’t make sense at all,” the IGP reportedly said at a press conference today.

He also sought to clarify his remarks on Nov 4 in which he reportedly said Low now “looks like a bear and walks like a wild ox”.

“They said it’s possible that he has undergone plastic surgery. That was the excuse given to me. So, I said in Tawau that I cannot accept the excuse they gave because the world is so advanced now that it’s easy to track people down.

“If the excuse is given that he underwent plastic surgery, I asked if the doctor is so skilful that he can change someone to look like a bear.

Nazir Sufari/TMI

“I didn’t say ‘he looks like a bear’ or, when we see him walking from behind, he looks like a wild ox walking. That’s what I meant.”

Hamid also responded to calls to use strategies by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency known for assassinations and kidnappings against targets deemed as enemies of the state, to capture Low.

The top cop stopped short of endorsing such strategies but said he was also employing semi-official channels.

“There are parties that say that our efforts so far have not been enough, or done so without considering more unorthodox methods, such as the ‘Mossad’ way,” he said.