KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers acting for fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, are allegedly attempting to block the publication of two upcoming books on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
The books, set to be published next month, are The Sarawak Report, by Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who is the editor of the blog of the same name; and Billion Dollar Whale, penned by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
This was the claim made by the Sarawak Report in its latest blog posting. The blog claimed that the UK publisher of Rewcastle-Brown’s book had received a letter from the London law firm Schillings, said to be the company representing Low over defamation issues.
“The letter threatened the publisher with “substantial damages” on the basis that the law firm assumed the book would repeat what it called defamatory accusations about Jho Low made on Sarawak Report (the law firm admitted it has not yet viewed a copy),” said Sarawak Report.
According to the blog, Schillings further claimed that no comment should be published about Low’s involvement in 1MDB prior to the completion of the civil proceedings concerning 1MDB asset seizures in the United States.
The blog also claimed that Schillings complained that the book ‘Sarawak Report’ could mention Low, without givin the latter the right of reply over the allegations.
“In their letter to the London publisher, Schillings also said it was likely that Sarawak Report would repeat allegations presently circulating in the press and social media, which they claim “are part of a politically motivated campaign by the present Malaysian Government”, “ said the blog.
Schillings, said the blog, had dismissed Sarawak Report’s reporting on Low’s involvement in 1MDB as “speculative, unproven and untested allegations”, saying that the information is “incomplete and lacks appropriate context”.
Sarawak Report, however, maintained that its allegations are documented, detailed and corroborated. It also noted that Low had yet to contact them to contest any of its articles.
The blog also claimed that it received information that the UK publishers of ‘Billion Dollar Whale’ have also received similar letters over the last few weeks. It claimed that the WSJ, in a report, said Shchillings was being funded via payments made by Thai businessman Phengphian Laogumnerd, allegedly an aide of Low.
The WSJ report stated that US investigators are probing whether the money used to fund Schillings and other lawyers working for Low was itself sourced from 1MDB.
The blog said the WSJ would continue to publish their book in the US, which is not affected by the UK’s libel laws.
Sarawak Report also said it had not directly received any correspondence from Schillings and would continue to publish the book independently in the UK and Malaysia. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd