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

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.


Egypt expects economic growth between 2.8 and 4% in 2021

Updated 47 min 49 sec ago

Egypt expects economic growth between 2.8 and 4% in 2021

  • Unemployment indicators also reflected the economy's development

CAIRO: Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said the country was reaching positive growth rates, calling it a great achievement in light of the global conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Maait said the estimated rate of economic growth in the fiscal year 2021-2022 would reach between 2.8 and 4 percent.

He said the percentage varied according to how each person perceived it sectorally, and that industries such as tourism and aviation were significantly affected by the spread of the disease.

“We have a priority to make room for the private sector’s participation in development projects,” the minister added.

He explained that there would be strengthened cooperation with the Transport Ministry in implementing its projects in partnership with the private sector.

Egypt had been hoping for growth between 6 and 6.5 percent before the coronavirus crisis broke out.

The country topped the emerging market economies in containing the rate of inflation during the current year, according to data from the Egyptian cabinet, despite the global repercussions of the health emergency.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that Egypt achieved the largest annual decline in the inflation rate in emerging markets in 2020, compared to 2019, with a decline of 8.2 percentage points.

Among the effects of the economic reform plan were inflation rates falling to 5.7 percent during 2019-2020, compared to 13.9 percent in 2018-2019.

Unemployment indicators also reflected the economy's development. 

Recent data from the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics showed the unemployment rate declining to 7.3 percent in the third quarter of this year, compared to 7.8 percent a year ago.

Egypt's monetary reserves rose to $39.22 billion by the end of last October, according to the country's central bank.

The IMF said the performance of the Egyptian economy exceeded expectations.