Malaysia asks Interpol to trace financier linked to 1MDB scandal

Low Taek Jho is accused in lawsuits of using 1MDB-linked funds to buy Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio a $3.2 million Picasso painting. (Reuters)
Updated 23 October 2017
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Malaysia asks Interpol to trace financier linked to 1MDB scandal

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has asked Interpol to try to locate a Malaysian financier for questioning over his suspected involvement in a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB, the deputy prime minister said on Monday.
The US Justice Department is seeking to seize $1.7 billion in assets that it said were bought with misappropriated funds from 1MDB, according to dozens of civil lawsuits filed by the department in the past two years.
The assets include a private jet, a hotel and real estate in New York, and a $107 million interest in EMI Music Publishing bought by Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, the lawsuits said.
Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, has not been charged with any crime. But US authorities have said they are pursuing a criminal probe into 1MDB-linked transactions.
“We are confident Interpol will act professionally, but the police have yet to receive any detailed information (on Low’s whereabouts),” Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in parliament.
A spokesman for Low could not be reached for comment. Low has previously denied any wrongdoing, saying that the US Justice Department’s actions were “a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case.”
Interpol did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
1MDB, founded by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is facing money laundering probes in at least six countries including the US, Switzerland and Singapore.
A total of $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, according to the US lawsuits.
Low is accused in the lawsuits of using 1MDB-linked funds to buy Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio a $3.2 million Picasso painting, and giving about $9 million in jewelry to Australian model Miranda Kerr.
DiCaprio and Kerr have turned over the items to US authorities and promised to cooperate in the 1MDB probe.
The lawsuits also said $681 million from 1MDB was transferred to the account of “Malaysian Official 1,” which US and Malaysian sources have previously identified as Najib.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing and a Malaysian government investigation has also cleared him of any wrongdoing. A Malaysian police probe into 1MDB is under way.


Cyprus, Egypt sign accord for Mediterranean gas pipeline

Updated 19 September 2018
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Cyprus, Egypt sign accord for Mediterranean gas pipeline

NICOSIA: Cyprus and Egypt on Wednesday signed an agreement paving the way for the Mediterranean’s first subsea pipeline to carry Cypriot natural gas to the Arab country for re-export to Europe.
“Today’s signing is an important milestone, not only for Cyprus but also the entire eastern Mediterranean region,” said Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis after he signed alongside visiting Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek el-Molla.
He said the agreement, “the first of its kind in our shared region,” was crucial for channelling gas from the island’s “Aphrodite” offshore field to Egypt and to attract multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investments.
A joint committee would be set up in 30 days to oversee the project.
Texas-based Noble Energy in 2011 made the first discovery off Cyprus in the Aphrodite block estimated to contain 4.5 trillion cubic feet (130 billion cubic feet) of gas but it has yet to be extracted.
The Aphrodite consortium, which also includes Israel’s Delek and Royal Dutch Shell, seeks to renegotiate terms before it taps the gas.
It is currently in talks with the Cypriot government over a bigger share of profits to make the project viable.
The discovery of nearby Egypt’s huge Zohr offshore reservoir in 2015 has stoked interest that Cypriot waters could hold the same riches.
Wednesday’s agreement is backed by the European Union in its search to diversify energy sources.
“We are essentially talking about a European pipeline, intended to transport Cypriot natural gas to Egypt for re-export to Europe in the form of liquified natural gas (LNG),” said Lakkotrypis.
The pace of construction of the pipeline to deliver gas to Egypt would depend on commercial agreements with investors.
Cyprus aims for natural gas to start flowing to Egypt’s LNG facilities in 2022, thus generating its first revenue from natural gas.
The island has also issued exploration licenses to ENI of Italy, the US firm ExxonMobil and France’s Total.