China still seen as preferred hideout for Jho Low

FAZRIK KAMARUDIN, Hasbi Sidek, and Teoh Pei Ying

KUALA LUMPUR: China is still seen as the preferred hideout for fugitive businessmen Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low. Although China, one of the most powerful countries in the world, is a member of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), it is likely to ignore the red notice issued by Interpol. There are 14 countries which are not the members of Interpol, namely Bhutan, Kiribati, North Korea, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa, San Marino, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vatican. Geostrategist Azmi Hassan said Jho Low might utilise the current situation between China and Malaysia as an opportunity to use the republic as a hideout. Azmi said apart from geopolitical aspect, Jho Low had resources in the Chinese mainland based on his family background. It is learnt that Jho Low’s grandfather, Datuk Low Meng Tak, was said to have originated from Guangdong, one of the largest province in China. “Jho Low may take advantage of the current relationship between Malaysia and China following the cancellation of several mega projects. “It is believed that he also has support to continue his daily life there as he has a millionaire grandfather in China. “Another important reason is that when it comes to Interpol’s Red Notice, sometimes powerful country such as China and Russia may sometimes ignore the notice as Interpol cannot compel any member country to arrest an individual,” he said when contacted today. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Law Faculty Associate Professor Dr Salawati Mat Basir said Interpol’s Red Notice was only part of the extradition process. She said Jho Low could choose any country that did not have extradition treaty with Malaysia. “The red notice is to inform all Interpol members about the individual being sought, and if the individual is detected to be in the country of an Interpol member, they can make the arrest. “However, not all Interpol members have an extradition treaty with Malaysia. For example only Singapore and Brunei have extradition treaties with Malaysia. “So, a country that does not have the extradition treaty will have the final say whether to hand over the wanted individual to the requesting country. “Malaysia can apply for extradition through political discretion. This is where it is crucial for Malaysia to appoint a representative to discuss with any country where Jho Low is hiding,” she said. Putrajaya Sessions Court yesterday issued warrants of arrest against Jho Low and his father, Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng, to enable the duo to be detained abroad to face money-laundering charges related to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal. The warrants against Jho Low, 37, and his father, 66, were issued after the Sessions Court approved an application filed by the police Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers against the duo, who had fled abroad. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said police will submit a Red Notice request to Interpol to track, capture and bring them back to face the charges. Based on the charge sheet presented to the courts, Low faces eight individual charges under Section 4(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 for receiving and transferring funds obtained from money-laundering activities. Low’s father faces one charge of transferring US$56 million derived from money-laundering activities to his son under the same act. In total, the funds totalled US$261 million (RM1 billion) while the transferred amount involved US$196 million. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd