KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — A writer of the book Billion Dollar Whale has claimed that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho had used Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as his cover story, causing others to not ask any questions when dealing with him.
Wall Street Journal reporter Tom Wright said the man also known as Jho Low, had ran the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) from behind the scenes and suggested that those who dealt with him were overwhelmed by the amount of money and the political backing he supposedly had.
“He had the prime minister as cover. He ran a sovereign wealth fund which has more money than hedge fund and private equity combined.
“This guy was running it from behind the scene, he had the cover. When you are dealing with that kind of money people don’t ask questions, compliance totally broke down here,” he said on Squawk Box, the US network CNBC’s programme.
Wright had penned the book with his colleague Bradley Hope. It was launched recently and Low through his lawyers are trying to stop its sale.
Asked what lessons could be learned from Jho Low, Hope suggested that there should be no compromise on due diligence.
“All along there were red flags that people could have easily kept following. All along there were auditors who could have gone a little bit further and could have seen there was a fiction that was covering some of this stuff,” he said on the programme.
According to the book, Low stole at least US$5 billion (RM20.7 billion) from 1MDB.
Low has outstanding arrest warrants issued to Malaysian police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over his alleged role in the 1MDB scandal.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been implicated in the scandal.
He was charged in July with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one charge for abuse of power involving some RM42 million allegedly funnelled to his private bank account from former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.
In August, he was charged with three counts of money laundering amounting to RM42mil under Section 4 (1)(b) of Anti-Money Laundering Act, Anti-Terrorism Financing Act and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amla) 2001.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges.