The man wanted for Malaysia’s missing billions has surfaced to tell the “true story”

The man wanted for Malaysia’s missing billions has surfaced to tell the “true story”
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Malaysia has been looking for him. The US government has been seeking him (pdf). And Wall Street Journal reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope have been trying to reach him for comment multiple times a year for several years now.

Now Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, has surfaced with a new website, and he wants to tell the “true story” of state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). The looting of billions of dollars from the fund is chronicled in Wright and Hope’s new book Billion Dollar Whale, which has flown off shelves in Malaysia, and is about to be released in the US tomorrow (Sept 18). (UK bookshops have been threatened with libel suits by a law firm representing Low if they carry it.)

Low is the “whale” of the title, a reference to the term used by casinos for high rollers, and the book, based on years of investigative reporting, doesn’t paint a very flattering picture.

Unflattering depiction.
Unflattering depiction.

Low allegedly moved billions of dollars from the fund through a series of Swiss bank and shell accounts and squandered it (paywall) to pay celebrities to hang around him at parties, to fund an over-the-top movie about a Wall Street swindler starring Leonardo DiCaprio, to buy a luxury yacht, to buy art kept hidden in a Swiss warehouse for the ultra-rich, and to pay for lots and lots of champagne.

On his updated, Squarespace-hosted website, Low writes that (pdf) the allegations against him are extremely unfair.

I have been paraded in effigy through the streets of Kuala Lumpur, and photographs from my younger days plastered in tabloids across the globe. It has become clear that there is no platform where objective information can be presented regarding this issue—and no jurisdiction that hasn’t been poisoned by gossip, innuendo, and unproven allegations.

This website is an effort to change that…

Let me be clear: I am innocent. With hindsight I may have done things differently, like any young person, but any mistakes I made do not amount to the sweepingly broad and destructive allegations being made against me. There are so many fundamental facts that those seeking to lay blame at my door find convenient to ignore. This website shall bring to light these facts and provide the true story that has been suppressed for so long.

The website also includes six press statements, five of which are dated back to August. Three statements are on the seizure and planned sale of the $250 million yacht Equanimity. The most recent one, from today (Sept. 17), is specifically about Billion Dollar Whale, and seems more likely to encourage people to read the book than deter them:

[T]his book is written with allegations disguised as fact and gossip passed off as legitimate reporting. The narrative is framed to allow the authors to write about celebrities, and models and parties, without ever proving any of the allegations… Billion Dollar Whale is guilt-by-lifestyle, and trial-by-media at its worst.

While the current content is new, the website itself is not. A Wayback Machine crawl of from August shows a more extensive bio than the one currently on the website and blog posts from 2016 about his wildlife support efforts, but it did not include his recent statements regarding 1MDB.