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Malaysia files criminal charges against Jho Low and his father

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Jho Low and his father are being charged for offences involving state firm 1MDB.

Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIA has filed money-laundering charges against financier Low Taek Jho and his father, signalling a stepping up of prosecutions of those behind the alleged embezzlement of funds from state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Low, widely known as Jho Low, is said to have taken part in laundering "proceeds of unlawful activity" when he received about US$262 million, and transferred about 41 million euros and US$141 million, according to charge sheets seen by Bloomberg News. His father, Low Hock Peng, was charged with transferring more than US$56 million to him. The transactions took place between December 2013 and June 2014.

The police confirmed the filings on Friday. Each money-laundering charge carries a fine of up to RM5 million (US$1.2 million), a jail term of up to five years, or both.

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Commercial Crime Investigation Department Director Amar Singh said in a text message: "Warrants of arrest for both of them were issued by the court."

The whereabouts of father and son are not known publicly.

1MDB is at the heart of a scandal in which US$4.5 billion was allegedly misappropriated from the fund. Low, who has said he was a consultant for 1MDB, is portrayed by some global investigators as a central figure behind some of the schemes involving missing funds.

His spokesman said the financier maintains his innocence and is confident he will be vindicated.

The spokesman said on Friday that Low was conferring with his lawyers and "would not submit to any jurisdiction where guilt has been predetermined by politics and self-interest overrules legal process."

US prosecutors had painted him as a bon vivant and a central figure who set up shell companies and arranged the transfers of tens of millions of dollars to pay Malaysian government officials.

Singapore filed charges against him in 2016, and issued a warrant of arrest.

The receipt and transfers of money were done through separate accounts at BSI Bank in Singapore, said the charge sheets. The charges were filed in absentia by the Commercial Crime Investigation Department and Attorney-General's Chambers, The Edge newspaper said. BLOOMBERG