It has emerged that just a month after the collapse of US law firm Kobre & Kim’s secret negotiations with the Malaysian Government of behalf of Jho Low their lead lawyer has moved on.
The British barrister, Robin Rathmell, has managed Jho Low’s massive lobbying and legal campaign for several years, plainly taking pride in his description as a specialist in the field of helping the super-rich confronted by fraud and money laundering allegations – Jho Low having been his major client:
Dual-qualified as an English barrister and a U.S. lawyer, Mr. Rathmell represents high-net-worth individuals and institutions in litigation involving allegations of fraud, money laundering and other forms of misconduct. He develops global litigation strategies for both plaintiffs and defendants, representing international clients in civil and criminal asset forfeiture, trusts, commercial and insolvency litigation, INTERPOL and international sanctions regimes. He has extensive experience representing clients in matters involving global regulatory authorities, requiring the coordination of legal strategies across multiple jurisdictions. In addition, Mr. Rathmell has extensive experience managing his clients’ reputations and helping them adroitly navigate potential crisis communications issues”
The above biography, provided by his new employers Kasowitz Benson Torres whom he joined in early July, presents a fine gloss on his services for Jho Low. However, there have been growing questions about the ethics involved in the negotiations which purportedly sought to drop all charges in Malaysia against Jho Low in return for $1.5 billion.
Rathmell had chosen to reach out to none other than Najib’s loyalist ex-Attorney General, Apandi Ali, to act as an intermediary for their offer. Apandi was recently described as “discredited” in a UK High Court ruling having originally ‘cleared’ the now convicted prime minister and closed down all investigations against Jho Low’s thefts from 1MDB.
Apandi has acknowledged that several meetings were held with senior officials at the Attorney General’s Chambers in KL to negotiate Jho Low’s offer. The present AG has confirmed the matter and said he also had attended. Rathmell and his colleagues even allowed themselves to be photographed standing with Apandi against the backdrop of the Attorney General Chambers sign.
However, at the end of May the negotiations appear to have collapsed.
Whose intervention prompted the scrapping of the nascent deal remains unclear. However, the political fall out from letting Malaysia’s top fugitive off the hook over the world’s largest recorded theft would clearly have been tumultuous and would have left UMNO facing an even more angry electorate at the upcoming polls.
Political cynics have commented on the other hand “where will UMNO find its cash for the next election now?” It is clear the failure of the plan, which looks highly likely to have been crafted by Najib himself on behalf of his proxy, will increase the existing divisions and enmity within the ruling party where many are starting to feel it is high time they ditch their corrupted former leader.
The discovery of these negotiations have therefore raised serious questions yet to be answered about who was behind them, how far they progressed and what payments and concessions had been on the table?
As opposition MP Ramkarpal Sing stated to the Edge Newspaper which exposed the scandal “Any attempt to settle Jho Low’s criminal cases in exchange for a sum of money can be a form of corruption”.
Rather than entering such negotiations, the MP points out, Apandi Ali ought to have demanded Jho Low’s surrender to the authorities, so that Rathmell or any other lawyer could have defended him rightfully in a court of law rather than encouraging criminals to flee and then bargain to escape punishment by such an approach to negotiation.
It remains to be determined whether Mr Rathmell has brought his toxic, but clearly ‘Ultra High Net Worth (Criminal) Client’ to his new post or whether he has chosen to flee the field entirel.