PETALING JAYA, Sept 1 ― A London-based law firm acting for fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho is attempting to block two books on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal scheduled for publication in the UK next month, according to Sarawak Report (SR).
One of the two books is by SR editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, while the other, titled Billion Dollar Whale, is written by journalists from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The whistleblower website claimed that the UK publisher of its book, eponymously titled The Sarawak Report, received a letter from the law firm Schillings dated August 30, warning of a potential defamation lawsuit if it went ahead with the publication and release of the book before the US civil court case on 1MBD asset seizures is over.
“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 by the website,” SR said on its website yesterday. It did not name its publisher.
It claimed the law firm assumed the book would repeat what it called defamatory accusations about the wanted Low that had been posted on SR. According to SR, the law firm admitted in the letter that it had not yet seen the contents of the book.
According to SR, the law firm hopes to exploit British libel laws that threaten third parties with expensive legal fees instead of challenging the authors directly.
SR also claimed that the law firm has sent similar letters to the UK publisher of Billion Dollar Whale over the past few weeks.
It added that the WSJ writers have said they will proceed with the publication of their book in the US.
However, SR said it has “not directly received any correspondence so far from Schillings and will continue to publish the book independently in the UK and Malaysia.
“Pre-purchased copies of the book will therefore be sent out as pledged and the books will continue to be sold through this website,” it added.
International news outlets have recently reported that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating claims that Thai tycoon Phengphian Laogumnerd and Pras Michel, a US rapper with links to US President Donald Trump, are financially supporting Low who is on the run from 1MDB investigators in Malaysia and Singapore.
Low was also reported to have hired several politically connected lawyers in the US to defend his interests in a sprawling DOJ investigation by retaining former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and one of President Donald Trump’s go-to law firms, Kasowitz Benson Torres.
The Penang-born businessman and his father, Tan Sri Larry Low, were charged in absentia with money laundering at the Sessions Court in Putrajaya on August 24.
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