Malaysia’s de facto Deputy PM, Finance Minister and Foreign Minister, Jho Taek Low, deputises for Najib Razak across many fronts, according to widespread information.
He was observed over several weeks in China before Najib’s East Coast Rail bail-out was announced with the state-owned construction giant CCCC, for example
However, one of many places he does not feel safe to go is Malaysia itself, given the notoriety of his brainchild 1MDB, designed to raise billions in slush money for the Prime Minister from public funds.
Hong Kong and Singapore, which have both frozen 1MDB related bank accounts, are also places where Jho Low is not sighted these days.
According to sources, the young billionaire fraudster has instead focused on Thailand and Taiwan as core safe havens over recent months and his super-yacht, Equanimity, has floated around the South China Sea as a key base for his activities.
So, it was with interest that yacht-spotters have recorded that Equanimity (after an extended stint off China) has spent nearly the whole of the past two months moored in and around the main marina on the popular tourist island of Phuket, Thailand.
Furthermore, for several days in December (roughly a fortnight) Jho Low’s boat (at 91 meters it is the 50th largest in the world) was pulled up alongside yet another of the world’s most enormous yachts, the even longer and more expensive vessle Radiant.
The owner of Radiant is none other than the powerful Abu Dhabi billionaire businessman and major player Abdullah al Futtaim. Al Futtaim is close to the imprisoned former Aabar boss, Khadem Al Qubaisi, say those in the know, and there is considerable speculation that these two figures linked to the 1MDB/IPIC mega-arbitration issue aren’t just kicking their heels together in the sand.
“Jho Low is still the trusted fixer for Najib. There are not many the PM can trust and he is still trying to get 1MDB and himself together with his boss out of this mess”
one Malaysian insider with his ear close to the ground has told Sarawak Report.
Certainly, a deal to settle the arbitration issue, where Abu Dhabi is understood to have been awarded an initial $3.5 billion dollar settlement, pending criminal proceedings over a further $3 billion in dispute, is a key target for Najib.
The Prime Minister wants this done as quietly as possible and he needs to find the money to do it. Chinese money is being pumped through the grossly inflated East Coast Rail deal with precisely this purpose in mind, according to papers leaked to Sarawak Report earlier this year, and the two billionaire yacht owners would appear to present a perfect interface.
Significantly, on Wednesday, the official Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani announced that 1MDB had somehow managed to finally cough up the money to meet its own debt repayments due in the third quarter of this year.
“I believe 1MDB and IPIC are trying to find a resolution to their dispute,” Johari said, though he did not give further details of the payment. [The Business Insider:]
Malaysia’s bargaining position appears to be that it wants Abu Dhabi to lie, in order to cover up a major embarrassment for Najib, in return for a settlement of the billions 1MDB owes.
It has been widely reported that whereas 1MDB’s own accounts registered that some $3.5 billion was paid from 1MDB to the Abu Dhabi Aabar/IPIC fund, there was no receipt of that money registered in the IPIC London Stock Exchange reports.
Evidence from the US FBI investigation; the Malaysian Auditor General’s report and the Singapore court cases related to BSI Bank have all confirmed that this money was instead sent to a series of bogus off-shore accounts, set up with similar names to Aabar by its now imprisoned CEO and Chairman, who were working in collusion with Jho Low and Najib.
This stolen money was then transfered on to Najib Razak’s personal account in KL and to Aabar Chairman Khadem Al Qubaisi’s account in Luxembourg.
After the FBI report in July confirmed this state of affairs, Deloittes, who were 1MDB’s auditors, resigned their position, having acknowledged that they could no longer stand by their figures.
Nevertheless, in his interview with The Business Insider, Johari implied that Malaysia is attempting to get Abu Dhabi to publicly claim that it was paid the money that went missing from 1MDB after all. In return Malaysia will apparently settle the debts it owes the Abu Dhabi fund.
“If IPIC could just acknowledge that they received the $3.5 billion payment made to them, then this matter could be easily resolved,” Johari said.
He said arbitration talks were still at the “case management stage.”
So, all Abu Dhabi needs to do is tell some lies relating to the misappropriation of billions of dollars and Najib will cut the deal they want! The message could not be clearer from this staggeringly frank interview and it sums up Najib’s typical modus operandi, which is paying people to lie (using other people’s money).
Is the Gulf state willing to see its reputation besmirched with the same moral reputation as the present Malaysian government or will it insist on doing things properly? There is much speculation that Jho Low and his wealthy counterpart from the Emirates will not have been sitting next to each other in Thailand for two whole weeks without negotiations in mind.
However, Jho Low’s time has to be running short. Singapore’s BSI Bank case has now exposed even more fully the criminal money-laundering of 1MDB’s stolen funds by bankers at his behest (three are now jailed). It would seem, therefore, that neither Singapore, nor indeed the United States and Switzerland, can credibly hold off much longer from issuing a warrant for the man behind the cime and behind him Najib.
Radiant finally floated off from its lengthy engagement in Phuket last week and is has been visiting ports in Malaysian waters. Having mysteriously turned its transponder off for periods over the past few days (thereby hiding its positioning) it moored near the holiday resort of Langkawi. [Update – it has now returned to Phuket]
Likewise, shortly after the news of Xavier Justo’s release on 13th December, Jho Low’s Equanimity also went out to sea and dangerously turned off its transponder for several days, meaning no one could track its movments or spot its position. On the 19th it reappeared in Phuket and again has moored next to another mega-boat, named Lady D.
Lady D has followed round after Equanimity for weeks, say yacht spotters, even tracking it to China. It is not officially known who owns this converted tug (which is presently believed to be up for sale) or why it is now the companion ship for Equanimity.
If there has been any outcome from the Yacht Summit, we should hear of it soon.