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Malaysia seeks financier Low to assist in 1MDB investigations
[KUALA LUMPUR] A Malaysian parliamentary committee investigating 1Malaysia Development Bhd said it will call on financier Low Taek Jho to assist its probe of the troubled state investment company.
Mr Low will be asked to help in his capacity as former adviser to the state of Terengganu's investment fund, Public Accounts Committee Chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed said on Friday, referring to a wealth fund that was later transformed into 1MDB. The request coincides with a Wall Street Journal report on Friday that said Singapore police informed Malaysia's central bank that transfers totalling US$529 million were made to a bank account in Singapore bearing Mr Low's name.
1MDB was at the centre of a July 3 Wall Street Journal report that said US$700 million may have moved through Malaysian government agencies and state-linked firms before ending up in accounts bearing Prime Minister Najib Razak's name. Multiple probes are under way into the indebted company, and a task force raided its offices this week as it examined the money trail.
Efforts to reach Mr Low for comment on the Wall Street Journal's report through his company Jynwel Capital and his New York representative at Edelman public relations were unsuccessful. Mr Low hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing during the probe in 1MDB, while Mr Najib has said the allegations against him are political sabotage and part of a smear campaign aimed at removing him from office.
"It's up to him," Mr Nur Jazlan told reporters in Kuala Lumpur, when asked if Low will be compelled to answer questions. The parliamentary committee wants to discuss some of 1MDB's investments with Mr Low, Mr Nur Jazlan said.
The probe into 1MDB is the biggest test for Mr Najib since he came to power in 2009, and has weighed on the ringgit and dented investor confidence.
The Auditor General told lawmakers in the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday that 1MDB didn't hand over all the requested records related to its finances, while the company said all documents in its possession were submitted to the National Audit Department. Mr Najib ordered the audit of 1MDB in March.
The audit didn't find any suspicious activity, Mr Nur Jazlan said on Thursday.
The Malaysian central bank sought help from its neighbour to investigate 1MDB, and was told by Singapore police in March that more than US$500 million was deposited between 2011 and 2013 into a Singapore-based account controlled by Mr Low at Swiss bank BSI SA, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing documents from a government probe.
The police declined to discuss the report and Bank Negara Malaysia said it can't comment on an active investigation. BSI Singapore said the bank won't comment on the matter.
The task force investigating the source of the alleged funds in Mr Najib's accounts comprises Malaysia's central bank, police, anti-corruption commission and attorney general's office. On Tuesday it announced a freeze on six bank accounts believed linked to the money trail. It has given no indication how long its investigation will take.