Two tax suits filed to claim RM9.3m arrears from two Jho Low associates

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The taxman is targeting another two of 1MDB-linked Low Taek Jho’s alleged associates, Casey Tang Keng Chee and Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, for purported unpaid tax.

Based on court documents, the Malaysian government filed on January 8 a lawsuit against Loo Ai Swan — better known as Jasmine Loo, who was 1MDB’s general counsel or in-house lawyer — to claim RM2,496.133.05 in tax arrears.

The Inland Revenue Board (IRB), via the Malaysian government, filed the lawsuit against Loo, who will be 48 this year, for taxes owed in the assessment years 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Seth Akmal/TMI

The government said IRB had issued separate notices all dated October 19, 2020, to Loo to claim RM1,495,366.08 and RM571,979.72 in additional assessed taxes for 2012 and 2014, RM75,292.96 income tax assessed for 2016, RM76,510.72 and RM50,062.40 for 2017 and 2018.

All these notices were sent on November 18, 2020, to Loo’s last known address in Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, but there has been no response.

On June 11, 2018, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had also released a poster featuring four individuals wanted to assist in investigations of the 1MDB case, including Loo and Tang. The two others were Tan Kim Loong and Geh Choh Heng — otherwise known as Eric Tan and former 1MDB deputy chief financial officer Terence Geh — who were reportedly also close associates of Low.

Yesterday, it was reported that Tan was hit with a lawsuit seeking alleged tax arrears of RM67.9 million.

At present, the police are still trying to locate businessperson Low, also known as Jho Low, along with Tan, Tang and Loo to assist an ongoing investigation into the 1MDB scandal.

Tang’s and Loo’s names were referred to multiple times in the course of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial.

The government is seeking alleged unpaid taxes from Tang for a nine-year assessment period from 2009 to 2017, and from Loo for a five-year period between 2012 and 2018 (2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018).

As Loo failed to pay the tax claimed for the five years within 30 days of the delivery of the IRB notices, a further 10 percent penalty was imposed for all those years, which resulted in the total amount she would need to pay coming up to the nearly RM2.5 million figure.

The Malaysian government is now claiming RM2,496.133.05, along with a five percent interest per annum on the nearly RM2.5 million amount from the date of the court’s decision until the day it is paid.

Separately, the Malaysian government filed a similar lawsuit against 56-year-old Tang Keng Chee — better known as 1MDB’s former executive director for business development Casey Tang — to claim income taxes owed amounting to RM6,779,852.36 or almost RM6.8 million.

If the taxes owed by both Loo and Tang were combined, it would be about RM9.3 million of taxes that they have yet to pay the Malaysian government.

Based on the Kuala Lumpur civil courts’ cause list, Tang’s case was scheduled to undergo case management today, while Loo’s case is scheduled for case management on February 18.

Bank Negara Malaysia had in July 2015 put out an alert for Loo and Tang but the duo reportedly did not show up, while Najib had in a 2017 written parliamentary reply said the duo had been removed from BNM’s watch list as investigations on them had been completed and as 1MDB had paid a compound issued by 1MDB as a result of the probe.

The four individuals — Loo, Tang, Tan and Geh — all had criminal charges filed against them and Low in December 2018 in their absence in Malaysia over their roles in defrauding and collectively causing the government losses of US$1.17 billion (RM4.2 billion).

Malaysian police had also in December 2018 secured warrants to arrest all five who are said to have absconded from the country and had said it would seek Interpol’s aid as well as that of related jurisdictions to detain these individuals.