High Court allows govt to seize RM48m from Jho Low’s dad, no contest in forfeiture bid

Deputy Public Prosecutor Aaron Chelliah speaks to reporters about the forfeiture action of RM48 million by the government on Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur July 19, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Deputy Public Prosecutor Aaron Chelliah speaks to reporters about the forfeiture action of RM48 million by the government on Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur July 19, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — The High Court today ruled that the federal government can proceed immediately with full forfeiture of RM48 million belonging to Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng, the elusive father of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho who is better known as Jho Low.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan made the order after no one turned up during today’s hearing to show cause as to why the properties should not be seized by the government.

“I am allowing the order sought by the prosecution as in the notice to seize the said assets for the government of Malaysia,” Zaini said.

The forfeiture action was filed to freeze Larry’s seven bank accounts containing a total of over RM48.9 million in order to forfeit the funds that were alleged to be linked to money-laundering activities.

Deputy public prosecutor Aaron Chelliah told the court that a notice for third parties claiming to have an interest in the monies held in Larry’s bank accounts to contest the forfeiture was gazetted on June 17.

The seven accounts are made up of current accounts and fixed deposits registered in RHB and Maybank branches in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

“As no third parties appeared today, the applicant (government) applied for the assets stated in the notice to be forfeited to the government as per the notice,” Chelliah said.

A court interpreter had also called out Larry's name twice before the judge heard the application.

On March 29, the Malaysian government filed a forfeiture action against Larry, who is believed to be abroad and have since absconded.

The application for civil forfeiture was filed under Section 56 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which allows the government to forfeit a property without a prosecution.

“The prosecution considers him as an absconded person. As he has absconded, a warrant of arrest has been issued and he has yet to be caught,” Chelliah added.

Chelliah said various efforts have been made to track down the respondent including publicising the forfeiture suit.

The RM48,979,500.67 seized from Larry's bank accounts include:

1. RM20,784,952 in current account (RHB Bank Bhd)

2. RM300,000 in fixed deposit account (RHB Bank Bhd)

3. RM500,000 in fixed deposit account (RHB Bank Bhd)

4. RM20 million in fixed deposit account (RHB Bank Bhd)

5. RM6.61 million in fixed deposit account (Malayan Banking Berhad)

6. RM462,618 in current account (Malayan Banking Berhad)

7. RM318,021 in current account (Malayan Banking Berhad)

Both Low and his father were charged in absentia at the Putrajaya Sessions Court in August last year in relation to the misappropriation of 1MDB fund.

Low has accused the federal government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of harassment and “political persecution” against his family.

“Once again, the Mahathir regime has ignored the rule of law, and in a clear abuse of power is seeking to exploit the attorney general’s office and police force to attack opponents and do Mahathir regime’s personal bidding,” Low was quoted saying in a statement released by his spokesman in March this year.