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.


Oil prices fall on expected output rise after OPEC deal

Updated 29 min 38 sec ago
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Oil prices fall on expected output rise after OPEC deal

SINGAPORE: Brent crude oil prices fell over 1.5 percent on Monday as traders factored in an expected output increase that was agreed at the headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna on Friday.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $74.21 per barrel at 0343 GMT, down 1.8 percent from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $68.40 a barrel, down 0.3 percent, supported more than Brent by a slight drop in US drilling activity.
Prices initially jumped after the deal was announced late last week as it was not seen boosting supply by as much as some had expected.
OPEC and non-OPEC partners including Russia have since 2017 cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to tighten the market and prop up prices.
Largely because of unplanned disruptions in places like Venezuela and Angola, the group’s output has been below the targeted cuts, which it now says will be reversed by supply rises especially from OPEC leader Saudi Arabia. Although analysts warn there is little space capacity for large-scale output increases.
“Several ministers suggested that (rises) would correspond to a 0.7 million bpd increase in production,” said US bank Goldman Sachs following the announcement of the agreement, although it added that were risks “that Iran production may be even lower than we assume” and that its output could fall further due to looming US sanctions.
Still, Britain’s Barclays bank said OPEC’s and Russia’s commitments would take “the market from a -0.2 million bpd deficit in H2 2018 to a 0.2 million bpd surplus.”
Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the agreement “represents a compromise between responding to consumer pressure and the need for oil-producing countries to maintain oil prices and prevent harming their economies.”
In the United States, US energy companies last week cut one oil rig, the first reduction in 12 weeks, taking the total rig count to 862, Baker Hughes said on Friday.
That put the rig count on track for its smallest monthly gain since declining by two rigs in March with just three rigs added so far in June, although the overall level remains just one rig short of the March 2015 high from the previous week.