GEORGE TOWN, June 12 — A friend of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho’s family urged the public and authorities today not to prejudge the central character in the global 1MDB corruption scandal.
Yan Lee, who comments on issues as part of the Citizens Awareness Chant Group (Chant), also said he has no problem being presented as a friend of the Low family, saying he has known the Lows for over two decades.
“In this Malaysia Baru that we have been fighting for, we finally get this change but we must still maintain that it was always innocent until proven guilty; otherwise our whole system, everything, breaks down,” he said at a press conference on another issue at his home here.
He called Low, also known as Jho Low, an “intelligent boy” and a native of the state who attended Chung Ling High School.
Lee then purported that Low was unwilling to return to Malaysia to stand trial over various charges linked to the 1MDB scandal as the latter did not expect to receive fair hearings.
He then suggested that Low might have other avenues with which to deal with the criminal charges levelled against him and his father, Datuk Larry Low.
Coming from a legal background, Lee clarified that he was not absolving the fugitive financier of the allegations but simply stressing the importance of fair and impartial trials for Jho Low.
“No matter what, they must be innocent until proven guilty; once they are proven guilty, I will clap together with all Malaysians, but the court has to decide in the end of the day,” he said.
On his statement criticising the government for seizing the Low’s Tanjung Bungah home that they bought in the 2000s before the 1MDB scandal, Lee said Low’s lawyers from London, UK had contacted him to do so.
In the statement, he had stressed that the mansion had been the Low family home for many years and where their children had grown up.
“Obviously if any funds are proven in an impartial court of law to have been misappropriated, they should be recovered, but how could this house be connected to 1MDB when it was built long before 1MDB existed?” he had said then.
Lee also urged authorities to respect the rule of law and not use the 1MDB scandal as an excuse to act in any manner it desired.
Police seized the three-storey mansion in Tanjung Bungah in March.
After winning the general election, the Pakatan Harapan government launched fresh investigations into the 1MDB scandal that resulted in criminal charges against Low, his father, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and other leaders from the previous administration.
However, the charges against the Lows were filed in absentia as both men’s whereabouts were unknown.
Aside from Malaysia, Jho Low has also been charged in the United States as part of the country’s larger investigation linked to the 1MDB scandal.
In the time, Malaysia has also recovered billions of ringgit through the sale of seized assets allegedly bought with 1MDB funds, including Low’s Equanimity superyacht.
The US Justice Department has also repatriated US$57 million (RM237.3 million) to Malaysia from the amount and has committed to send another US$139 million it expects to raise from selling Jho Low’s stake in Park Lane Hotel that is in Manhattan, New York.
Jho Low continues to maintain his innocence in the 1MDB scandal and is believed to currently be in China.