Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho has sought to pin the blame for the 1MDB scandal on former prime minister Najib Razak, saying he had no authority to make decisions regarding the stolen funds on his own.
“I have no authority to make any decision,” Low, who is wanted in several countries including Malaysia and US, said in a series of recordings obtained by Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera.
“It’s a pretty known fact that… all the approvals have to be approved by the minister of finance.”
The recordings, part of a special investigation by Al Jazeera titled “Jho Low: Hunt For A Fugitive”, were from phone conversations Low had with the Pakatan Harapan government in the wake of its victory in the 2018 general election, the news channel said.
Low, better known as Jho Low, also suggested that he had borrowed the money from the state investment arm to buy himself luxury real estate, a private jet, and a superyacht, among others.
“All these ultimately were loans, directly or indirectly, but, ultimately, I think the time has come, we want to assist in repatriating these assets back in return for cooperating and moving on with life without, you know, being prosecuted,” he was quoted as saying.
He also claimed that “north of half a billion dollars” worth of jewellery was bought for Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, using 1MDB money.
“That was a huge amount.”
Jho Low has been accused by authorities in several countries of laundering money through US-based Goldman Sachs and other banks.
Police say he has been living in Macau, although China denies this.
In the leaked conversations, Jho Low revealed that he was in China before he fled to the United Arab Emirates, skipping a meeting with Malaysian investigators in Macau.
“Because of the whole warrant of arrest, you know, effectively the UAE folks didn’t think it was safe, so I [have] just gotten into Dubai,” he said.