LARGE sums of money syphoned from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state investment fund could still be hidden in Hong Kong and Singapore, the British journalist instrumental in exposing the multi-billion dollar scandal said.
Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the editor of Sarawak Report said more information on the matter would soon emerge as there was still information to be uncovered on “secret deals” to that place in Singapore, one of the countries investigating the case.
“I think there are still secrets to come out of Singapore on 1MDB, and probably Malaysians will want to prise them out,” she said, as quoted by the South China Morning Post.
Clare Rewcastle-Brown was in Hong Kong to promote her book “The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose” at the Foreign Correspondents Club in the island city.
The scandal has rocked Malaysia’s political landscape in recent years, and has seen the downfall of former Prime Minister Najib Razak being charged with 38 counts of criminal breach of trust and graft related to 1MDB, which he formed in 2009 to undertake a myriad of infrastructure projects.
The scandal has also implicated Najib’s family members and close associates, including his wife, Rosmah Mansor.
The US Justice Department (DOJ) alleges a total of US$4.5 billion was laundered from 1MDB in the scandal that has prompted investigations to be launched in at least six countries.
Last week the DOJ slapped Jho Low, the Malaysian financer at the centre of the corruption scandal, and two other high-flying Goldman Sachs bankers with formal charges in the US on Thursday for embezzling billions from the 1MDB.
Apart from Low, whose real name is Low Taek Jho, the department unsealed charges against Goldman Sachs banker, Ng Chong Hwa (Roger Ng), and Tim Leissner, another ex-Goldman banker who earlier pleaded guilty and agreed to pay US$43.7 million in restitution of ill-gotten gains.
However, Low remains at large and is believed to be hiding in China, according to earlier reports.
Authorities have seized a slew of assets including properties in the US, a luxury yacht named the ‘Equanimity’, a private jet, exquisite paintings and millions worth of jewellery in one of the largest seizures in history.
And as authorities, especially in Malaysia, move to recover the bulk funds and assets lost to the scheme, Clare Rewcastle-Brown added the scandal is “going to rear its head in Hong Kong quite soon”.
“A lot of the money stolen by the former ruling couple of Malaysia ended up here in Hong Kong. I cannot see how the lid is going to be kept on that much longer,” she said in the report.
The journalist said Jho Low is believed to be receiving advice from his father, Low Hock Peng, on his next moves to evade arrest from authorities. An arrest warrant has also been issued against the businessman father, who is also implicated in the case.
“Jho Low’s father was a businessman with a chequered character and probably… spent many decades developing an understanding of how to manage the offshore system,” she said.
Rewcastle-Brown called the operation a “family business”, claiming Low’s sister who is based in Singapore was an “expert in setting up offshore corporations”, while his brother was also involved in the management of the fund.