KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 – Businessman Low Taek Jho should be investigated and action taken against him if there is proof that he was involved in the misappropriation of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, Umno Youth said today. Referring to the front page story of The Edge Financial Daily today, Umno Youth exco Ibdillah Ishak said that Low should not have accused Umno of twisting issues concerning the state investment vehicle, and labelled the party as “spin masters”.
“The question that arises is who is Jho Low to seemingly blame Umno and label Umno leaders as ‘spin masters’?” Ibdillah said in a press statement today. “Who is this individual to say such things? Is Jho Low really involved and feeling guilty in this huge controversy?” Ibdillah was commenting on Jho Low’s interview with business monthly Euromoney, where he accused Umno leaders of being spin masters in matters relating to the controversial debt-ridden 1MDB.
Low, who was accused of using his links with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to profit from the fund, had denied the allegation, saying that he had only advised 1MDB on certain matters and had no official role in it. Low had also said that he was under attack because there were attempts to divert attention away from the company’s bad performance and decisions which led to some RM42 billion in debts. “It’s so frustrating… I’ve never faced this kind of attack from all directions. It’s just crazy, and these Umno guys are spin masters, they know all this sort of nonsense,” he was quoted as saying.
“All these guys go round and round and round and I say: ‘Guys, it’s very simple, there’s a board, who’s the shareholder?’ “Have you ever seen one statement from anyone that talks about the simple governance of a company? “Are you telling me the prime minister doesn’t make his own decisions? That the ministry, the finance minister, who is the prime minister – and there are only two to three people in the finance ministry that sign off on shareholder resolutions under law – that none of them… that they just signed without evaluating it?”
Excerpts of the interview were featured in today’s edition of The Edge Financial Daily. Ibdillah said it seemed as though Low was trying to get himself off the hook by defaming Umno leaders through the interview. “There is no need to defame Umno leaders when you are facing such huge problems. It is as if he wants to get himself off the hook.” He also urged authorities to heed the suggestion by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who earlier today called for speedy investigations into 1MDB and Jho Low.
Khairy was also responding to Low’s interview with Euromoney and had tweeted Umno Youth’s full support for Najib while asking for a thorough probe to be immediately initiated into Low’s role in 1MDB. “Pemuda nyatakan sokongan kpd @NajibRazak. Juga minta segerakan siasatan @1MDB. Siasatan penuh terhadap individu ini,” (Umno Youth expresses support for @NajibRazak. Also requests for speedy investigation @1MDB. Conduct full probe on this individual) he had posted on Twitter alongside a picture of the report.
In a separate interview with the South China Morning Post in March, Low had denied allegations of money laundering and fraud linking him to 1MDB, adding that he was not the mastermind of the troubled company. “I feel I’m a victim in the cross-fire of Malaysian politics, which is getting more polarised. I’m a target,” he was quoted as saying. The businessman told the Post that business decisions by 1MDB were ultimately decided and approved in accordance with their corporate governance framework, which is the management, board and shareholder.
“So why politicise and try to blame it all on me when I have no decision-making authority? “I’m not hired by 1MDB and I don’t get paid any fees by 1MDB. If someone in 1MDB asked me for my views informally, I will give my views like any other Malaysian,” he said. Criticism has been mounting over the wholly-owned Finance Ministry investment vehicle, established in 2009, which has chalked up debts of up to RM42 billion.
Whistleblower site Sarawak Report, in a series of exposes, had published leaked email correspondence between the company and PetroSaudi International, which Low was part of. It also alleged that PetroSaudi was used as a front where Good Star, a company controlled by Low, received US$160 million (RM589 million). This led to Najib ordering the Auditor-General to “independently verify 1MDB’s accounts”, with the findings to be passed to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).