Malaysia investigating report of Jho Low holding dual citizenship

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican has said the Home Ministry is investigating a report that Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho holds dual citizenship, adding that preferential treatment will not be given to him if the claim is proven true.

Datuk Seri Reezal Merican made the comments on Sunday (July 23) in response to a report that claimed the Penang-born Mr Low, also known as Jho Low, holds passports of both Malaysia and the West Indies island of St Kitts & Nevis, Malaysian media said.

Mr Reezal Merican stressed that Malaysians are not allowed to hold dual citizenship, warning that those who do will have to face the law.

“There is no preferential treatment for anybody. Anyone with dual citizenship will have to face action, according to the law provided by the constitution,” he was quoted saying by the Malaysiakini website. “We will wait for the report from the custodial ministry, which is the Home Ministry,” he added.

The claims about Mr Low’s dual citizenship had been reported in a US Department of Justice (DOJ) complaint filed on June 15 that sought to seize US$540 million (S$736 million) in assets allegedly stolen from Malaysian state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The DOJ is alleging that more than US$4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB, a sovereign fund set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009.

The misappropriated assets were said to include a pink diamond necklace worth US$27.3 million allegedly bought for Datuk Seri Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor by Mr Low, who has said he was an unofficial adviser to 1MDB in its early years.

Mr Low’s whereabouts are not known. After the DOJ’s filing, Reuters reported that Mr Low responded with an e-mailed statement through a representative saying that the DOJ’s actions were “a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case”.

“The US Department of Justice’s latest move continues its inappropriate efforts to seize assets despite not having proven that any improprieties have occurred,” Mr Low had been quoted saying by the news agency.

Earlier this month, Mr Low also hit out at Singapore after the Republic’s prosecutors said he had victimised the beleaguered state fund and received large sums of money traceable to the fund for his own benefit.

Mr Low, in a statement on July 13, said attempts to link him to those convicted over the pocketing of “secret profits” linked to 1MDB were “based on unfounded assumptions”.

His comments came after former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei was sentenced to 4½ years for cheating and money laundering in a case linked to Singapore’s investigations into the 1MDB probe.

During the case, it had emerged that Mr Yeo had referred to Mr Low as “boss” and spent at least one night at his house.

Mr Low had also been described by Singapore prosecutors as “a key person of interest” in the wider ongoing money-laundering probe. – The Edge

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