Singapore says Hong Kong declined 2016 request to arrest Jho Low


Singapore • Singapore said its request to Hong Kong authorities in 2016 to arrest Low Taek Jhow, or popularly known as Jho Low, for alleged money laundering and dealing with stolen property wasn’t acted on, refuting media reports that said it didn’t ask for the Malaysian financier to be apprehended.

The request for assistance to provisionally arrest Low — a central figure in a global multi-billion dollar probe related to Malaysian state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) — was sent to the Hong Kong Department of Justice (DoJ) in April 2016, a representative for Singapore’s police said yesterday in response to Bloomberg News queries.

“Singapore’s request was declined by the Hong Kong authorities,” the Singapore police said, without elaborating on why it was denied. The request was made under an agreement for the surrender of fugitive offenders between both territories, it said.

The DoJ in Hong Kong said it doesn’t comment on individual cases. Low’s representative didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

Low was in Hong Kong and Macau recently, according to media reports. The South China Morning Post said in a July 7 article that Low was free to recently leave Hong Kong for Macau because neither Malaysia nor Singapore had formally requested his arrest. He left Macau, the world’s biggest casino hub, for an unknown destination, the Malaysiakini news website reported yesterday.

1MDB is at the heart of a scandal which allegedly saw US$4.5 billion (RM18.14 billion) misappropriated from the fund. Switzerland’s top prosecutor on Tuesday said 1MDB was used as a Ponzi scheme. Low, described by Malaysian authorities as the “best witness” in the probe, is a wanted man in his home country and Singapore. Low said in June that he would help in the probe and instructed his lawyers to make contact with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) after he was made aware they were seeking him for assistance. He has previously denied wrongdoing. Malaysia has said it has enough evidence on Low’s crimes.

“We issued a warrant of arrest for Low in April 2016, following investigations and charges against him for offences of money laundering and dishonestly receiving stolen property,” the Singapore police said yesterday. “Low remains a key person of interest to Singapore in ongoing 1MDB-related investigations.”

At Singapore’s request, the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) published a red notice — a request to locate and provisionally arrest a person — for Low in 2016. Both Singapore’s warrant of arrest for Low and the Inter- pol red notice against him are in force, the police said. — Bloomberg