MALAYSIA— Kee Kok Thiam, a suspect in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal, who had informed the authorities about the whereabouts of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho (also known as Jho Low), has reportedly passed away due to “sudden illness”.
The Malay Mail, a Malaysian media outlet, reported that a source from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed the 56-year-old Kee’s death, stating, “I can confirm that it’s him, but I cannot provide any further details.”
A senior official from the commission also acknowledged receiving news of Kee’s demise, mentioning that he had been released after being questioned by the commission.
In addition, another source with the Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers also provided indirect confirmation, saying that an investigator with the MACC also confirmed Kee as the same person in the obituary.
The Malay Mail earlier discovered an obituary that included details of a scheduled prayer service for Kee on Tuesday (30 May) followed by a funeral service at the Kepong Crematorium the following day.
Kee arrested at KLIA on earlier May after deported from Macau due to overstaying his visa
Kee Kok Thiam was arrested by the MACC on 3 May at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, as reported by Al Jazeera. A Malaysian police source disclosed that he had been deported from Macau due to overstaying his visa.
Kee, after being interviewed by MACC officers, revealed that he had been imprisoned by Macau immigration for a month in 2021. However, he was released on conditional terms due to the closure of the territory’s borders as a result of COVID-19 regulations, according to the MACC.
Kee admitted meeting Jho Low in Macau
MACC also confirmed that Kee had acknowledged meeting Jho Low, as well as other 1MDB fugitives such as Eric Tan Kim Loong, Casey Tang Keng Chee, Geh Choh Heng, and Nik Faisal, during his time in Macau.
Jho Low allegedly instructed Kee not to return to Malaysia as a witness in the 1MDB case.
Kee is a relatively enigmatic figure, often referred to as Jho Low’s “aide.” In 2016, Kee came under scrutiny when Singapore authorities accused a company linked to him of receiving over $5 million of 1MDB funds.
With the assistance of Singaporean police’s Commercial Affairs Department, the MACC seized the funds from the account.
Jho Low wanted by Interpol
Low has been hiding from legal enforcement agencies since 2018, when he was charged in Malaysia and the United States for his alleged role in the 1MDB embezzlement scandal.
On 14 March 2023, Malaysia’s Home Minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, confirmed that Low and five other individuals linked to the 1MDB scandal, namely Terence Geh Choh Heng, Casey Tang Keng Chee, Jasmine Loo, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, and Eric Tan Kim Loong, remain elusive, and no Interpol member country has confirmed the presence of these individuals in their countries.
He stressed that Interpol’s Red Notice is “still active and in effect to this day” for Low and five other individuals linked to the 1MDB scandal.
Malaysia’s Home Minister had, through the Malaysian police’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), filed charges in absentia against Low and other fugitives at the magistrate’s courts in Putrajaya and in Kuala Lumpur.
In Sept 2022, Tom Wright, the author of ‘Billion Dollar Whale”, suggested that Low might be hiding in Macau, China.