In recent years, the name Jho Low has become synonymous with one of the biggest financial scandals in history – the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman, has been accused of masterminding a complex scheme to siphon billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund into his personal accounts. This article delves into the life and career of Jho Low, exploring his early years, business dealings, and the ongoing investigation into his role in the 1MDB scandal.
Jho Low, born Low Taek Jho on November 4, 1981, hails from a wealthy Malaysian Chinese family. Growing up in George Town, Penang, he was the youngest of three children. Low attended prestigious schools, including Chung Ling High School and The International School of Penang, before being sent to Harrow School in London. At Harrow, he had the opportunity to mingle with students from influential families, including royals from the Middle East and Brunei. It was during his time in London that he developed a close relationship with Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
After completing his education at Harrow, Low enrolled in the undergraduate program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. There, he continued to foster connections with Malaysians and other influential individuals from Kuwait and Jordan. Low graduated from Wharton in 2005.
Low’s entry into the world of high finance began with his involvement in the Kuwait Finance House’s purchase of a luxury high-rise apartment building in Kuala Lumpur for $87 million in 2006. This deal marked the start of a series of high-profile transactions that would propel Low into the spotlight.
As the steward of Jynwel Capital, an investment company he established, Low cultivated relationships with sovereign wealth funds such as Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co and the Kuwait Investment Authority. Jynwel Capital was involved in significant deals, including the acquisition of New York’s Park Lane Hotel, the takeover of Coastal Energy, and the buyout of EMI’s music publishing business. However, one of the most notable ventures associated with Low is his support for Red Granite Pictures, a Hollywood production company responsible for films like “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Dumb and Dumber To.”
Jho Low’s alleged involvement in the 1MDB scandal began when he developed connections with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund, where he occasionally consulted. The Wall Street Journal reported that properties in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, owned by shell companies connected to Low’s family trust, were later transferred to Razak’s stepson. These transactions raised suspicions of money laundering and kickbacks.
In 2016, Interpol issued a red notice at Singapore’s request to locate and arrest Low. However, he has managed to evade capture, with reports suggesting that he is residing in China. Low’s alleged involvement in the 1MDB scandal led to the revocation of his Malaysian passport and arrest warrants issued against him by the new Malaysian government. Despite these developments, Low maintains his innocence, claiming that the charges against him are politically motivated.
Low’s ability to travel freely and evade arrest has been attributed to his possession of multiple passports. While he was born in Malaysia and granted Malaysian citizenship, he reportedly obtained passports from Caribbean and Mediterranean nations through economic citizenship programs. However, in 2018, Malaysian immigration authorities revoked Low’s passport, citing the possession of multiple passports as a criminal offense. It was also revealed that Low had obtained a Cypriot passport through a citizenship investment scheme.
As a fugitive, Jho Low is believed to be residing in China, where he travels extensively through major cities. Despite the Malaysian authorities’ attempts to locate and arrest him, Low has managed to evade capture, with reports suggesting that he is living in a house owned by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party in Macau. The Chinese government has denied harboring Low, although he has been spotted in public places, such as Disneyland Shanghai, raising questions about his whereabouts.
Jho Low’s personal connections to the Najib Razak family led him to support and fund Najib during the 2013 elections in Malaysia. He organized a pro-government concert featuring American musicians Busta Rhymes and Ludacris, which drew criticism from the opposition government for alleged unfair electioneering.
Beyond Malaysia, Low has been implicated in lobbying activities in the United States. He was allegedly involved in a conspiracy to gain access to and potentially influence Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign without disclosing the foreign origins of the money funneled into the campaign. Low has denied making any campaign contributions directly or indirectly in the United States.
Before becoming an international fugitive, Jho Low was known for his extravagant lifestyle and connections to celebrities. He was frequently seen socializing with high-profile figures, including Paris Hilton, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kimora Lee Simmons. Low’s lavish lifestyle was allegedly funded by money obtained from the 1MDB fund. His romantic relationships with Taiwanese singer Elva Hsiao and Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr garnered media attention and became subjects of scrutiny in relation to the 1MDB scandal.
Jho Low has been known to contribute money to various charitable causes. However, critics argue that his charitable giving is merely an attempt to improve his tarnished image and that the funds he donates were stolen from the 1MDB fund. The timing of his philanthropic activities aligns with the unfolding of the 1MDB scandal.
Jho Low’s alleged involvement in the 1MDB scandal has captivated the world’s attention. From his early years in Malaysia to his business dealings and subsequent fugitive status, Low’s story is one of wealth, intrigue, and controversy. As the investigation into the 1MDB scandal continues, the quest to bring Jho Low to justice remains ongoing. Despite Low’s continued denial of any wrongdoing, the impact of the scandal continues to reverberate through the global financial landscape.