THE fugitive businessman at the centre of Malaysia’s famed state fund scandal on Monday launched a website to defend his reputation, barely a day after a book accusing him of looting billions was released in the country.
Low Taek Jho, who is more commonly known as Jho Low, is the subject of the new book “Billion Dollar Whale,” authored by two writers from the Wall Street Journal on the state 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal involving nearly US$5 billion syphoned from the Malaysian government.
On the website, Jho-Low.com, the 36-year-old said he wanted to address a series of allegations across the globe in relation to 1MDB.
Low said many of the allegations against him originated from blog posts, “improper” leaks from within Governmental agencies around the world, or unproven allegations filed in court, where he has “never been afforded an opportunity to set the record straight.”
“It has become clear that there is no platform where objective information can be presented regarding this issue—and no jurisdiction that hasn’t been poisoned by gossip, innuendo, and unproven allegations,” he said in a posting.
“Let me be clear: I am innocent.”
In recent months, Malaysian authorities have issued a red notice to Interpol seeking the arrest of Low is believed to be seeking asylum in China, which does not have an extradition treaty with the Southeast Asian country.
Written by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, the “Billion Dollar Whale” details the opulent life of Low, who among other things was notoriously known for throwing a Las Vegas party in 2012 which involved US singer Britney Spears singing “Happy Birthday”, Korean pop star Psy’s performance of “Gangnam style”, and Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio’s rapping on stage.
The US Department of Justice said the Malaysian businessman previously gave the actor Picasso Basquiat Paintings, and Marlon Brando’s Oscar statuette. Low also gifted Miranda Kerr with US$8 million in diamond jewellery, which were surrendered to department officials.
Low is reportedly a close associate of ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is currently facing a slew of charges relating to money laundering and abuse of power related to 1MDB.
1MDB has been a focus of investigations in at least six countries, including the United States, but Najib has denied any wrong-doing.
In May, a shock election result upended Malaysia’s political order in which the Barisan Nasional coalition led by Najib was — for the first time since its independence from colonial rule in 1957 — replaced by a new government under former mentor-turned-foe Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Shortly after taking office, Dr Mahathir’s administration had reopened investigations into the scandal which led to Najib’s arrest in July.
Low has earlier claimed he had little or nothing to do with 1MDB, but investigators believe he was the financier and person who laundered money through various shell companies in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, among others.
Low also suggested that the accusations against him were politically motivated.
“I have been paraded in effigy through the streets of Kuala Lumpur, and photographs from my younger days plastered in tabloids across the globe,” he said.
“Obviously, I have opinions regarding the rule of law, political corruption in Malaysia, and the fairness and justice of this process, and I will make those clear.”
With the launch of the website, Low said he will also provide court documents, excerpts from media reports, and other materials that at least attempt to “restore balance” to what has become a global media circus.
“With hindsight, I may have done things differently, like any young person, but any mistakes I made do not amount to the sweepingly broad and destructive allegations being made against me.”