US AUTHORITIES PREPARING TO CHARGE JHO LOW

US authorities [DoJ] intend to file criminal charges against flamboyant financier Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, according to people familiar with the investigation, The Wall Street Journal reported. – Getty Images
US authorities intend to file the criminal charges against the young Malaysian businessman,Low Taek Jho or Jho Low  in connection with an international scandal involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that they believe could be one of the largest financial frauds ever, according to people familiar with the matter,
The civil suits, which are proceeding separately from the criminal probe, seek more than US$1 billion of assets, including van Gogh and Monet paintings and luxury real estate in New York and Los Angeles, allegedly bought with stolen money. The Justice Department is currently seeking to add recently discovered Low family property to the list of assets it is trying to seize, including a yacht Jho Low controls, the US$165 million, 300-foot, helipad-equipped Equanimity, WSJ reported.
In addition, Singapore has been building a potential criminal case against Jho Low, said a person involved in the city-state’s investigation. A Justice Department team has just finished a visit to Singapore to conduct interviews related to Jho Low and other aspects of the 1MDB matter, said two people familiar with the trip.
Jho Low, whose full name is Low Taek Jho, and his lawyers didn’t respond to requests for comment. Previously, Jho Low had said he was the victim of political infighting in Malaysia and was only an informal adviser to 1MDB. His family members are taking legal action to fight the US asset-seizure lawsuits.
Jho Low, a 35-year-old known for hanging out with Hollywood celebrities and hosting lavish parties in Las Vegas and elsewhere, struck a confident tone in a New Year’s message to friends this January. “2016 was the Perfect Storm; but the calmness and resolve of our Captain, led his loyal Sailors whom placed their lives with utmost trust in his leadership weathered the storm,”
Mr. Low wrote in a WeChat message viewed by The Wall Street Journal. “The men and women that came out of the storm were not the same men that walk in. Through struggle, they established new strengths they never knew they collectively had,” he wrote.
“The very moment they were brought to their knees, and their world was about to fall apart,” Mr. Low added, “their Captain’s exemplary leadership guided them to safety; and through this experience, they achieve a new level of humility, nobility and higher intelligence ready to set sail for greater achievements in 2017 for their people!”
Since the US filed its asset-seizure suits, which are against the assets themselves and don’t name people as defendants, Mr. Low has largely disappeared from public view. He has deleted some email accounts, changed phones regularly and avoided the US, said people familiar with his movements.
With his bank accounts frozen by several countries — and Jho. Low warned by officials in Malaysia to stay away, according to people familiar with the matter — the financier has mainly been living in China and Thailand, said those familiar with his comings and goings. At the Peninsula Hotel in Shanghai, a staff member last year described Jho Low as a long-term resident. Jho Low’s yacht has been moored in Thai waters since October, WSJ reported.
The Equanimity recently was berthed for around 40 nights at the Ao Po Grand Marina on the Thai resort island of Phuket, records show, at a cost of about $20,000, part of it settled from a baht account at Bangkok Bank. The bank and the marina manager declined to comment.
The US’s prosecution plans, which could change or be dropped as its investigation continues, involve filing criminal charges of wire fraud and money laundering against Jho Low and potentially some of his associates, said people familiar with the probe.
They didn’t describe the potential timing. To obtain an indictment, prosecutors would present evidence to a grand jury, which would need to agree the government had probable cause to believe a law had been broken.
Any charges could increase pressure on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who set up 1MDB and was close to Jho Low.
The US asset-seizure suits refer to a “Malaysian Official 1” that the suits allege received hundreds of millions of dollars siphoned from 1MDB.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing. Early last year, Malaysia’s attorney general said large deposits in his accounts were a donation from a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and most was returned. Attempts to contact Najib for this article were unsuccessful. The 1MDB fund itself has also denied wrongdoing and pledged cooperation with investigators.
Amid the growing pressure, Jho Low has taken inspiration from “The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich, ” according to people who have discussed the book with him.
The late Mr. Rich was a commodities trader indicted in the US on tax evasion and other charges who lived without arrest for decades in Switzerland, then was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001. Read more source The Edge Markets Fortune.com

How Malaysia’s 1MDB Fund Scandal Reaches Around the World


State investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, has been making headlines in Malaysia and around the world in the past year, mainly for the wrong reasons. There are probes reported in at least ten countries related to 1MDB, or on companies and individuals linked to it.



United Kingdom
Luxembourg
Switzerland
United States
Hong Kong
U.A.E.
Thailand
Malaysia
Singapore
Australia
Investigations surrounding 1MDB center on alleged financial irregularities and possible money laundering. Both 1MDB and Prime Minister Najib Razak have consistently denied wrongdoing, and the fund continues to state that no foreign legal authorities have contacted them on any of these investigations. Here's a snapshot of the various probes.
Malaysia
Probes
  • Political Donations to Najib
    Najib has faced questions over $681M that appeared in his accounts before the 2013 election. The Attorney General cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in January after investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. READ MORE
  • Central Bank Found Inaccurate Disclosures
    The central bank said it found inaccurate disclosures by 1MDB when it sought approvals for investments abroad. It also proposed criminal proceedings against the fund, calls that were dismissed by the attorney general. The central bank said in March it will pursue "appropriate administrative enforcement action." READ MORE
  • Committee Blames Former 1MDB CEO
    The Public Accounts Committee on April 7 found poor oversight of the fund by its board of directors and recommended that investigations start against its former CEO, who subsequently denied wrongdoing and defended his actions at the company. READ MORE
Investigating Agencies
  • Attorney General’s Office of Malaysia
  • Auditor General’s Office of Malaysia
  • Bank Negara Malaysia (central bank)
  • Public Accounts Committee
  • Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission
  • Police
Singapore
Probes
  • Singapore Investigates Possible Money Laundering
    Singapore is conducting a thorough review of possible money laundering related to 1MDB. In February, it said it seized “a large number” of bank accounts. READ MORE
  • BSI Senior Private Banker’s Accounts Frozen
    A senior private banker at BSI, a relationship manager for a 1MDB unit, had his bank accounts frozen and was questioned in a probe related to 1MDB. Neither BSI nor its staff have been charged by regulators in the city-state. READ MORE
  • Singapore Assists Swiss
    The Singapore Attorney General’s office said it received a request for legal assistance from its Swiss counterpart on a 1MDB probe and will render all possible help “expeditiously.” READ MORE
Investigating Agencies
  • Monetary Authority of Singapore
  • Commercial Affairs Department / Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office
  • Singapore Attorney General’s Chambers
Switzerland
Probes
  • Swiss Suspect $4B Fund Misuse
    Swiss authorities suspect money laundering and criminal mismanagement. They also found that a small amount of funds were transferred to Swiss accounts of former Malaysian public officials. Najib is not one of the public officials accused. READ MORE
  • Finma in Contact With Four Banks
    The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) is in contact with four banks over their possible involvement in the Malaysian matter and whether Finma’s regulatory laws were respected. READ MORE
  • The Emirates Connection
    The Swiss attorney general suspects money paid by 1MDB that was intended for an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund benefited others, particularly two U.A.E. public officials that the Swiss are investigating for fraud, and a company related to the film industry.READ MORE
Investigating Agencies
  • Attorney General of Switzerland
  • Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA
United Kingdom
Probes
  • Report: U.K. Said to Investigate
    The U.K. is said to be investigating 1MDB because of the involvement of U.K. banks, the International Business Times said in February. The Serious Fraud Office declined to comment. READ MORE
Investigating Agencies
  • Serious Fraud Office
United States
Probes
  • 1MDB Bond Proceeds
    U.S. prosecutors subpoenaed former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner, who oversaw bond sales for 1MDB, about the Malaysian fund, said people familiar with the matter. READ MORE
  • Other Investigations
    The Justice Department is investigating whether funds were embezzled from 1MDB by politically connected people in Malaysia. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is leading the probe and trying to determine if any U.S. laws were broken. READ MORE
Investigating Agencies
  • FBI
  • U.S. Department of Justice
Australia
Probes
  • Report: Avestra Asset Management
    An Australian regulator has been pursuing Avestra Asset Management over corporate mismanagement and got a court to order several of its funds to be wound up, The Wall Street Journal reported. Court documents show Avestra is linked to Cayman Islands-based Bridge Global. 1MDB invested $2.3B of funds via the Bridge Global Absolute Return Fund SPC. READ MORE
Investigating Agencies
  • Australian Securities & Investments Commission
Hong Kong
Probes
  • Report: Police Investigating
    In September, Hong Kong police said they were looking into deposits allegedly linked to Najib, a claim denied by the Malaysian government, according to theFinancial Times. The police said in April that there are no updates to the case.
Investigating Agencies
  • Police
Thailand
Probes
  • Xavier Justo
    The former employee of PetroSaudi, a company that was linked to 1MDB, is said to have stolen e-mails from his former employer and used the correspondence to extort money. Xavier Justo was sentenced to three years jail in August 2015. Thai police say the case is now closed.
Investigating Agencies
  • Police
Luxembourg
Probes
  • “Concrete Clues” of Embezzlement
    In March, prosecutors in Luxembourg said they found “concrete clues” of embezzlement from companies owned by 1MDB via accounts in Singapore, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. READ MORE
Investigating Agencies
  • District Tribunal of Luxembourg
United Arab Emirates
Probes
  • Report: Former Abu Dhabi Fund Execs Investigated
    Two former executives of an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, which had dealings with 1MDB, were issued travel bans, The Wall Street Journal reported. They also had their personal assets frozen by the U.A.E. central bank amid embezzlement allegations. The central bank did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. READ MORE
Investigating Agencies
  • Unnamed Regulators

Malaysia 1MDB Controversy


From the moment Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak took over 1Malaysia Development Bhd. in 2009 the fund has remained controversial. Plagued by heavy debt and questions about its management, 1MDB grew into a scandal that moved closer and closer to the heart of the Malaysian government and has resulted in numerous foreign probes.

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