by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by TMR GRAPHICS
MALAYSIA has issued arrest warrants against three leading characters including fugitive Low Taek Jho who masterminded the looting of billions from state-owned fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The Penang-born businessman, who is popularly known as Jho Low, together with PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) directors Patrick Andrew Marc Mahony and Tarek Essam Ahmad Obaid are wanted by the authorities in Malaysia for crimes related to 1MDB.
All of them, who have been linked to what is dubbed the world’s largest corporate larceny, were charged in absentia in a Kuala Lumpur court on Monday, according to Bernama.
The country’s graft buster, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), has also alerted International Police Agency (Interpol), putting the three individuals on a red notice.
Red notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence. Law enforcement worldwide can locate and arrest the person on the red notice list pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action, said Interpol on its website.
MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said the body wants to bring the three suspects into the country to be tried in the court of law.
“MACC has sent an alert to Interpol for them to be brought back and secured in court,” she said in Putrajaya yesterday.
The three were charged in absentia on Monday for abetting in the laundering of US$69 million (RM285.42 million).
The warrant of arrest was presented to Magistrate S Mageswary at the KL Magistrate Court on the same day.
The charges against Jho Low, Saudi’s Obaid and British Mahony were made under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 and the MACC Act 2009.
Jho Low, Mahony and Obaid were charged for jointly conspiring with former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak to use his position to acquire commissions on Feb 24, 2011, and June 14, 2011.
The first charge under Section 28(1) of the MACC Act provides a maximum jail sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount or value of bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
In the second charge, Obaid and Mahony were charged for money laundering by accepting money into the 1MDB-PetroSaudi account channelled through the 1MDB account on Sept 30, 2009. Najib has repeatedly denied any wrongdoings.
Obaid is a Georgetown University graduate and is the CEO and co-founder of PetroSaudi, according to Bloomberg’s data.
The US Department of Justice had filed indictments against Obaid for lying to banks and 1MDB officials, claiming that Good Star Ltd belonged to PetroSaudi. Good Star has been the front to siphon about US$330 million.
Latheefa said the country’s laws allow for non-Malaysians to be charged for any criminal corruption act that happened in Malaysia.
Latheefa said the charges were part of MACC’s ongoing recovery-cum-investigation on 1MDB and its subsidiary, SRC International Sdn Bhd.
In October last year, the antigraft body issued 80 compound notices to individuals, foundations, companies and political parties, including prominent politicians, as the agency steps up efforts to recover RM420 million believed to have been laundered from 1MDB.