IGP says aware of Jho Low’s bargain attempts since 2018, assures fugitive of ‘safe passage’ to Malaysia to explain himself

IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador speaks to reporters outside Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur February 28, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador speaks to reporters outside Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur February 28, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador today confirmed news reports that 1MDB fugitive Jho Low has been attempting to negotiate with the government for immunity against prosecution since 2018.

The inspector-general of police said he learnt about it when he was still head of the police Special Branch.

“Yes. I was informed by the AG’s office then,” he told Malay Mail when contacted for comment on Al Jazeera’s reports about Low’s incriminating conversations in which he sought to bargain for his freedom with the Malaysian government since being on the run over the 1MDB financial scandal.

The Qatari news agency had publicly released several leaked audio recordings between May and November 2018 on its website late last night, which were picked up by local news outlets today.

Abdul Hamid also urged Low to come out from hiding and return to Malaysia and offer his testimony about the case to the public prosecutor.

“If he thinks he is innocent, why is he still in hiding?” the IGP asked.

“He can return any time to enable him to explain to AG. And I can assure him of safe passage.

“But as it is now, in the eyes of the law, he is a fugitive,” said Abdul Hamid who took over as IGP in May 2019.

He lamented the lack of progress in Low’s repatriation, noting that the Penang-born has steadfastly refused his cooperation.

“Nothing seems to move. He seems to be stealthy that not even the mightiest law enforcement body with the most advanced technology can detect him,” Abdul Hamid said.

Low who has been nicknamed the “billion dollar whale” by two US journalists Tom Wright and Bradley Hope in their 2018 bestselling book of the same name had evaded Malaysian and Singaporean authorities for the past five years.

In a tweet earlier today, Wright alluded to the latest disclosure and said the leaked recordings showed attempts by US law firm Kobre & Kim hired by Low to negotiate on the latter’s behalf

“Secret recordings of Jho Low, the fugitive Billion Dollar Whale, pleading to stay out of jail. Also tape of a Kobre & Kim lawyer, paid millions by Low, bargaining for his client. Former US prosecutor questions how Kobre can prove it’s not laundering money. A good question!” he posted.

According to Al Jazeera’s report yesterday, Low, who has purportedly been living in a house owned by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party in Macau since February 2018, has been able to travel around the world with relative ease due to “high-level government assistance”. The report did not elaborate on which government was aiding Low.

The report from Al Jazeera based on the audio recordings, if genuine, would be the first time the world has publicly heard Low’s voice in conversation since the 1MDB scandal emerged.

Al Jazeera reported Low denying any wrongdoing in the 1MDB financial scandal, pinning everything on former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was also finance minister at that time, and claiming the Abu Dhabi government to be complicit in the abuse of the Malaysian sovereign fund.

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