KUALA LUMPUR – April 3, 2018: 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has reiterated that Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho or popularly known as Jho Low had no ties with the company.
In an interview with Indonesian news magazine, Tempo, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy pointed out that Low was an advisor to 1MDB’s predecessor, the Terengganu Investment Authority. According to Arul, the Penang-born Low left TIA in May 2009 after holding the position only for a month.
Low was shoved into the limelight in 2015 following allegations that he had siphoned billions of ringgit from 1MDB.
Arul – as he did in 2015 – also dismissed the claim that Low had continued his ties with 1MDB, clarifying that Low had acted on behalf of PetroSaudi International during a September 2009 meeting with 1MDB over a joint-venture deal.
“Jho Low is close to businesses in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait. That is his expertise. So he acted on their behalf and not us. This is important because the opposition always links Jho Low to 1MDB
“He knows Prince Turki bin Abdullah, the founder and boss of PetroSaudi. Prince Turki is the son of the late Saudi King, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz,” said Arul, adding Low was the broker for the 1MDB-PetroSaudi deal.
At the time he brokered the deal, Low had already known former 1MDB CEO Shahrul Azral Ibrahim Halmi, as the latter was part of TIA’s management.
“So that is the link (between Low and 1MDB),” he added.
As part of the joint-venture, Arul told Tempo that 1MDB invested US$1.83 billion into PetroSaudi from 2009 to 2011, adding that 1MDB had profited from it.
The United States’ Department of Justice (DoJ) in a filing in 2016 outlined three phases in which 1MDB’s money was allegedly siphoned, one of which was the deal cited by Arul Kanda.
The DoJ identified the deal as the Good Star phase, in which it said 1MDB had invested US$1.83 billion, of which US$1.03 billion was allegedly siphoned and transferred to Low’s Good Star Ltd.
1MDB later declared it had sold the investment and received US$2.318 billion in shares, which included a US$488 million profit on its original investment.
In the interview, Arul also maintained that Low has no ties with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“But he is close to 1MDB,” Arul said, adding that he was also not aware of any ties between Low and Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz.
“I don’t know. Jho Low never told me. Najib also never told me.”
The 1MDB case made headlines in Indonesia last month after the Equanimity super yacht linked to Low was seized in Bali as requested by the US.
On the allegation by the DoJ that the yacht was bought with 1MDB money, Arul maintained the company’s stand that it had entered into a settlement with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) for USD$3.5 billion payment it had made to Aabar Investment PJS Ltd, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (Aabar BVI).
“We have no idea what Aabar BVI did with the money. And we do not want to know.
“Whether it is the yacht, paintings, the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ movie, those have nothing to do with us. This is our legal position under the law,” he was quoted as saying.
IPIC had said that its subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, had no relations with Aabar BVI.