Lawyers acting for the fugitive financier Jho Low, who is believed to be hiding in China, are seeking to threaten UK publishers and distributors in an attempt to block two upcoming books on the 1MDB scandal. The books are The Sarawak Report by the editor of this site and Billion Dollar Whale written by journalists from the Wall Street Journal. Both are due to be published next month.
Information made available to Sarawak Report indicates that the lawyers have advised Jho Low that British libel laws can be best exploited by threatening intermediaries with expensive legal engagement, rather than seeking to challenge the authors who are armed with copious information about the heist.
Yesterday, the UK publisher of The Sarawak Report received a letter from the London law firm Schillings, which has emerged as the company hired by Low to represent him regarding alleged defamation issues. The letter threatened the publisher with “substantial damages” on the basis that the law firm assumed the book would repeat what it called defamatory accusations about Jho Low made on Sarawak Report (the law firm admitted it has not yet viewed a copy).
Schillings further claimed that no comment should be published about Jho Low’s involvement in 1MDB prior to the completion of the civil proceedings concerning 1MDB asset seizures in the United States (that case is presently stayed pending criminal investigations).
The UK publishers of the Wall Street Journal book are understood to have also received numerous similar letters over the past few weeks. The paper revealed yesterday that Schillings are being funded through payments made by Phengphian Laogumnerd a Thai businessman, whose close business ties to Jho Low have previously been detailed by Sarawak Report.
According to the Wall Street Journal, US investigators are now probing whether the money used to fund Schillings and other lawyers working for Jho Low was itself stolen from 1MDB. Leogumnerd has stated he is wealthy in his own right.
The WSJ writers say they will continue to publish their book in the United States, which is not burdened by the UK’s far-reaching libel laws, widely criticised as outdated and open to abuse. Sarawak Report has not directly received any correspondence so far from Schillings and will contiue to publish the book independently in the UK and Malaysia.
Pre-purchased copies of the book will therefore be sent out as pledged and the books will continue to be sold through this website.
Meawhile, Schillings have complained Sarawak Report is liable to have mentioned Jho Low in the book, without having put its allegations to the fugitive financier (whose precise location is unknown) or offering right of reply. Yet, so far Low has not contacted this site to challenge anything written. Sarawak Report has reported his total denial of wrong-doing of any kind on a number of occasions.
In their letter to the London publisher, Schillings also said it was likely that Sarawak Report would repeat allegations presently circulating in the press and social media, which they claim “are part of a politically motivated campaign by the present Malaysian Government”.
The lawyers also claim in their letter that it is false to say that Jho Low has been charged with money laundering offences in Malaysia, as was widely reported in the local and international media last week. They say the Malaysian authorities “have merely initiated steps which could, possibly, lead to our client being charged”.
Sarawak Report has checked sources close to the Attorney General’s office, who say this claim by Schillings is false and confirm that the charges against Jho Low for money laundering have indeed been filed. Furthermore, a request has been put to INTERPOL by Malaysia to issue a Red Notice for the financier’s arrest and extradition, together with his father.
Singapore issued its own Red Notice alert back in 2016, after a series of court judgements implicated Low as a key mastermind behind offences connected to 1MDB.
Nonetheless, Schillings dimisses the reporting by Sarawak Report on Jho Low’s involvement in 1MDB as “speculative, unproven and untested allegations”, warning their third party targets that our information is “incomplete and lacks appropriate context”.
Sarawak Report maintains that to the contrary our allegations are heavily documented, detailed and corroborated. Moreover, Jho Low has not once contacted SR to contest anything written by this site since since it broke the original story in February 2015, detailing how US$700 million, supposedly paid by 1MDB into a joint venture with the company PetroSaudi, was in fact detoured into the Coutts Zurich account of the Seychelles company Good Star, which is owned by Jho Taek Low.