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Fugitive financier Jho Low’s former associate arrested in Malaysia

MALAYSIA — Jho Low’s ex-associate, Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, surrendered herself to Malaysian authorities last Friday (7 July), and she is ready to cooperate with the authorities.

Loo’s move looks like one made by former Goldman Sachs partner Tim Leissner, who pleaded guilty and testified against Roger Ng, a former managing director for Goldman Sachs in Asia.

The former general counsel of 1Malaysia Development Bhd fund, better known as 1MDB, was arrested by the Malaysian police after she surrendered herself.

Loo’s lawyers, Amer Hamzah Arshad and Edmund Bon, said Loo, a former associate of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), was arrested, remanded and is now in custody.

“Our client’s priority is to cooperate with the relevant law enforcement agencies in their ongoing 1MDB investigations, as well as to facilitate and assist the Malaysian government in expediting its asset recovery efforts.

“Our client has absolute trust and confidence in the Malaysian judicial and legal system and will face all matters accordingly. She seeks privacy and space to do what is necessary at this time,” they said in a statement today.

Amer and Bon said Loo would reveal the circumstances of her time away from Malaysia in due time, having fled the country just before the 14th general election on 9 May 2018.

“She also looks forward to reuniting with her family as soon as possible. Our client has always treated Malaysia as her home,” they said.

Yesterday, Malaysian home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said Loo had been arrested by the police on Friday to assist in investigations over the 1MDB scandal that looted more than US$4 billion (SGD5.32 billion) from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Saifuddin said police were holding Loo at the Dang Wangi police headquarters.

The investigations are being held under Section 409 of the Penal Code for criminal breach of trust.

A warrant of arrest had been issued for Loo in 2018, but she had been missing since May that year along with other key individuals linked to the 1MDB scandal – former SRC International CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, former 1MDB executive director Tang Keng Chee and Geh Choh Heng.

The authorities later sought Interpol’s assistance to track them down.

Arrest of Loo won’t alter course of case against Najib

Reportedly, Loo’s arrest is unlikely to alter the course of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s ongoing trial.

According to New Straits Times, Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said the prosecution in the case is yet to receive any direction from the top leadership as the rogue lawyer is now in police custody.

“She is now in police remand to facilitate investigation under Section 409 of the Penal Code for criminal breach of trust.

“So far, I cannot comment further as there are no instructions from the top brass.

“However, for now, we believe our case is strong enough with or without her statement,” New Straits Times quoted the source when asked to comment on how Loo’s arrest would affect Najib’s ongoing trial and whether she would become one of their witnesses.

Loo’s name was excessively mentioned during Najib’s ongoing corruption trial for allegedly misappropriating RM2.3 billion (SGD665 million) from 1MDB.

It was reported that Loo was among the proxies working with Low, to misappropriate millions of ringgit from the sovereign state fund.

Loo, who also became a fugitive after the fall of the Barisan Nasional-led government during the 14th General Election in 2018, was listed as a wanted person.

In 2018, Low, alongside four others linked to the scandal — Loo, Terence Geh, Casey Tang Keng Chee and Eric Tan Kim Loong — were charged in absentia at the Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s courts over money-laundering cases linked to the 1MDB scandal.

Loo was charged with two counts of laundering more than US$6 million received in a Swiss account she controlled on 6 December 2012 and 1 July 2014.

This is believed to be a portion of the funds diverted from the first two 1MDB bond offerings underwritten by Goldman Sachs.

On Jan 20, the High Court allowed the government and a bank to forfeit one property, two luxury vehicles and RM22,600 in cash belonging to Loo.

The forfeiture application was filed in November 2021 under Section 56 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing, and Proceeds of Unlawful Activity Act 2001.

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