The Kuwaiti criminal court has now published its judgement against what it describes as an “organised criminal group” consisting of Jho Low; Sheikh Sabah, son of the former Kuwait prime minister; his lawyer, Saud Abdelmohsan; a former businesss partner, Bachar Kiwan and Jho Low’s Kuwaiti friend, Hamad Al Wazzan who shared the proceeds of “funds seized from the Malaysian government” totalling well over a billion dollars.
The 68 page judgement, which sentenced the lawyer to 7 years in jail and the other four to 10 years each, accuses the gang of conspiring to launder huge backhanders raised by Najib in Malaysia through bogus inflated contracts with Chinese companies. These included CCCC’s East Coast Rail Link for which CCCC agreed to secretly pass back $7 billion into companies created by Jho Low, such as Al Asbar and Al Mouniratayen General Trading which were fronted by Sheikh Sabah in Kuwait.
Much of the money was then funnelled back into Malaysia via a bogus land purchase from 1MDB, the judgement confirms, and then swiftly passed to the IPIC sovereign wealth fund in Abu Dhabi, which had agreed to rescue the plundered Malaysian ‘development fund’ from its immediate debts as part of a cover up operation in return for a hefty recompense.
However, the ruling, which lays out in clear detail how the payments were made and spent, points out that hundreds of millions of the equivalent of $1.2 billion passed to Al Asbah by a CCCC subsidiary company in 2017 for this purpose remained in the Al Sabah bank accounts.
The bogus land deal cost c $US617 million in 2017, leaving well over half a billion in the Kuwait accounts managed by Jho, Al Wazzan, Sh Sabah and his lawyer.
The judgement details how Jho Low utilised large amounts of the money to pay outstanding bills to legal firms and others using Sheikh Sabah as his proxy, given that he was now branded as a fraudster and fugitive by the mainstream banking system.
The wanted fraudster was by now hiding in China which had entered into an agreement in June 2016 with the Malaysian prime minister to facilitate these cover-up thefts. Jho used the money to buy new passports and attempted to purchase a number of private banks in Cyprus, Mauritius, the Comoros Islands and the Bahamas.
For the first time the judgement publishes further details from the Kuwaiti investigation revealing how Sheikh Sabah also passed millions into his personal accounts to buy a yacht, private jet, cars and jewellery and also to pour money into the accounts of his two sons and daughter.
Jho’s accomplice and long-standing college friend, the Kuwait national Hamad Al Wazzan, joined as a co-signatory on Sheikh Sabah’s accounts which managed the money in the Kuwaiti branch of China’s ICBC bank.
He received 14 million Kuwaiti Dinars on his own admission, the judgement says, paid to him by the Sheikh from the stolen Malaysian money under the false pretence of having performed investment research. The sum translates into over US$45 million, much of which was transferred to Switzerland and UK accounts and investments.
Al Wazzan sought to threaten Sarawak Report with legal action in 2021, utilising the libel firm Taylor Wessing, unless we removed all reference to his role in the affair.
On top of the jail sentences the Kuwait court, which noted that investigations by the Gulf state’s anti-money laundering unit had been severely hampered for two years due to a suspension of cooperation by the Malaysian government under PN/BN, large fines were imposed.
Sh Sabah, Hamad Al Wazzan, Saud Abdelmohsan and Jho Low were issued with a joint fine of 175 million Kuwaiti Dinars, which translates into over half a billion US dollars ($570 million) presumably to be obtained from the bank accounts and assets.
A further demand of 11 million KD ($35m) was made of Sabah, his erstwhile partner Bachar Kiwan (who escaped Kuwait and became a whistleblower soon after the Malaysian money started to arrive in their partnership’s joint accounts) and Jho Low.
The question that will be asked in Malaysian today is whether this enormous sum of money ought not to be reclaimed under the present government despite the earlier lack of cooperation from previous PN/BN prime ministers who were in government with Najib?
Furthermore, there is ample evidence that far more money entered from Malaysia beyond the documented $1.2 billion dollars cited in the trial. So, should not a full investigation into this matter be also launched on behalf of the Malaysian public who are still funding the repayment of 1MDB debt?
As with the exposes on the original heist Sarawak Report was the media outlet that broke the scandal of Jho Low’s Kuwaiti money laundering operation in 2020, causing the Kuwaiti investigations to be launched.
This week’s judgement has proven every revelation in our series of investigations on Kuwait to have been correct, despite several legal threats to silence our reporting. Below is how we broke the story:
The Malaysian financial fixer Jho Low had been on the phone to his contacts, according to a source who witnessed the call. It was June 2016 and the location was the luxurious home of the family of the then Kuwaiti prime minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
With Jho Low were the prime minister’s two sons, Sheikh Fahd Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah who held the position as chief of staff in the government and his elder brother, Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah (Sheikh Sabah) who had adopted the role of the main businessman in the family.
Further links to Sarawak Report’s Exclusive investigations on Kuwaiti Money Laundering of Malaysia’s 1MDB Cover-up Cash:
By early 2016 the family through Sheikh Sabah had entered into a number of business arrangements with Jho Low whereby they agreed to facilitate major purported plans on the part of the Chinese government-backed Silk Road and Economic Belt initiative through the so-called Silk Road Integrated Real Estate Fund (the “SRIREF”) in Kuwait.
Jho Low’s introduction to the Al Sabah family had initially been made, reliable informants have told Sarawak Report, through representations by high ranking people in the government of Malaysia. They say that on his visits to Kuwait the businessman was treated as the representative of Prime Minister Najib Razak, according to protocols reserved for people of diplomatic status.
“He was introduced to the Al Sabah household under full diplomatic protocol accompanied by the Chinese ambassador. We were told he was the representative of the Malaysian prime minister and wanted us to facilitate planned investments involving Malaysia and China”
As a 17 page document sent to the Al Sabah family by Jho Low in May 2016 explained the proposal was for an US$8 billion investment in major projects in the state sponsored by the Silk Road company and also, significantly, the Chinese Communications and Construction Company (CCCC), which was at that time negotiating with Najib in Malaysia to clinch the multi-billion ringgit East Coast Rail Line initiative (ECRL).
According to the witness at the Sheikh Sabah home:
After the call he [Jho Low] told us he had good news on the “silly stuff” about 1MDB. The Malaysian contract with CCCC had been “upgraded” and as a result the ‘silly stuff’ would be taken care of by the Chinese.
He [Jho Low] explained that the people from CCCC were very pleased about the ‘upgrade’ as it represented a huge increase on the profit margin for them of at least 200%. In return they would pay commission to the prime minister, Najib Razak, of US$3 billion and that would come through Kuwait, which would represent big money for Jho Low and his business partner Sheikh Sabah.
Evidence, testimony and surrounding developments make clear that the contract Jho Low was referring to was indeed Malaysia’s East Coast Railway initiative (ECRL), the projected cost of which was formally inflated by 100% when it was presented for approval to the Malaysian Cabinet a few weeks later in July (a matter revealed by Sarawak Report at the time). Prime Minister/Finance Minister Najib Razak flew to Beijing in November to ratify the agreement.
It suggests there was a parallel agenda to Jho Low’s investment proposals being made on behalf of China in Kuwait, which started to become clearer as events unfolded.
A secret codicil to the massively inflated ECRL budget obtained by Sarawak Report in 2015 shows that the Chinese state construction company CCCC had privately agreed under the revised terms to cover the multi billion dollar repayments that were by then outstanding on debts raised by the Malaysian development fund 1MDB and also to buy out certain Jho Low controlled companies to the tune of a staggering $7.5 billion, a sum not too far shy of the $8 billion that the proposed SRIREF consortium was at the same time proposing to invest in Kuwait.
This was effectively a covert bail out of 1MDB by the Chinese including commissions to Jho Low, to be ultimately funded by Malaysian taxpayers. As part of the secret deal CCCC agreed to buy out worthless 1MDB assets (like the notorious Brazen Sky) and Jho Low companies for a bold US$5.63 billion and to pay the money in instalments from the signing of the contract to “nominated companies” – specifically “US$1.25b in total to nominated companies by 30 June 2017″.
The purpose was to conceal the massive thefts orchestrated by Jho Low from the fund that came directly under the purview of his “Big Boss” Najib Razak (much of the money has been recorded as entering Najib’s accounts and those of his Hollywood producer stepson Riza Aziz).
He used to refer to his ‘Big Boss’ and my ‘Big Boss’. In my case the Big Boss was supposed to be the Kuwait prime minister and his son. In his case it was Najib.
explains Sarawak Report’s source in this matter.
By this point in 2016 Jho Low had a parallel problem aside from the pressing need of his prime minister boss to somehow meet the debt and principal repayments by then owed by 1MDB, which was that by then his role in the thefts from the fund had been widely exposed. As a result, he had been forced on the run from international law enforcers and found himself shunned by the global banking system.
He was looking for safe channels to pass through the vast sums of money stolen from 1MDB and indeed the vast sums of money he now hoped to raise from the ECRL to pay some of it back.
The 17 page proposal to the Kuwaitis on the other hand referred to none of this back story in Malaysia. Instead it described the Silk Road project as a “Development Fund to be jointly sponsored by the designated investors from the State of Kuwait and People’s Republic of China”, as if it were a state to state affair. The key funders of the project were listed as CCCC and the Silk Road fund and there would be management fees available for a “designated Kuwait entity” (understood but not named as being the Al Sabah family).
The prospectus promoted the important and official status of the Silk Road fund and the role of two internationally known advisors, namely the former Goldman Sachs President and head of the Brookings Institute, John Lawson Thornton, and the former Secretary General of the EU, Javier Solana.
Three existing major infrastructure proposals were cited in the prospectus for Kuwait that would take many years of investment and the proposed fund was described as being divided into stages (much as the agreed repayments to 1MDB by CCCC had been staged up until 2022).
Significantly, a stage one for the fund involved a proposed up front transfer of US$1.2 billion in advance of the construction stages getting underway – an immediate transfer (see above). The purpose of this was not stated and on closer scrutiny some of those close to the Kuwaiti side of the deal questioned the genuine nature of the proposals.
Sources close to the Al Sabah family’s involvement in these proposals say they were at first impressed with what appeared a genuine, Chinese state backed investment enterprise in Kuwait.
However, those familiar with the activities of Jho Low on behalf of his Malaysian prime ministerial backer will recognise hallmarks familiar to other schemes such as the ‘state to state’ joint ventures with PetroSaudi and with Abu Dhabi’s Aabar, which managed to obtain a public blessing from Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad and his top advisor Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
The Kuwaiti initiative certainly fitted in with China’s aspirations to influence a swathe of emerging nations via its ambitious massive infrastructure investments, spearheaded by the Silk Road Fund.
However, there was another dimension. Key to Jho Low’s modus operandi was his networking with those close to the top decision makers – People who commanded respect in their countries because of who they were related to.
After a couple of exploratory visits in early 2016 Jho Low returned with an impressive delegation of Chinese officials and businessmen, accompanied by the Chinese Ambassador to Kuwait, to cement relations with a ceremonial set of meetings on April 20/21st.
Amongst the visitors, say our sources, was the Chairman of the Silk Road Finance Corporation Mr Shan Li and a partner, Mr Joe Xiang and also none other than Mr. Xinyuan Liu, the nephew of the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Al Sabah family were suitably impressed.
“Jho Low said he had made big money out of the Malaysians and now he planned to make billions out of the Chinese and we could be part of that” explains a source who was close to the Al Sabah family.
Jho Low took part in an arrival ceremony at the airport where gifts were presented and then went to the Al Sabah home where these gentlemen were entertained by Sheikh Sabah.
Here more food, photographs, gifts and speeches were made before the party was taken on a trip to the desert.
A participant in the ceremonials and business partner of Shekh Sabah told Sarawak Report:
“They had come to launch an initiative for a projected US$8bn infrastructure programme in Kuwait funded by Chinese investment. At the time the project seemed very high level, above board and professionally driven by the senior officers of Silk Road Integrated Fund.
However, I was struck at how these Chinese senior managers all deferred to this nephew of the President. Jho Low was acting as the agent for the nephew and the introducer of all these parties. He had explained to us that through this connection with the nephew of the President the 50 biggest companies in China could be involved in investing in Kuwait.
At the time I also thought it was very strange that this Malaysian personality should be driving such deals between these high-level players from China and Kuwait”
The following day at noon Sheikh Sabah and his brother Sheikh Fahd arranged for the group to be presented formally to their father, the prime minister, who in turn arranged for the group to meet the son of the Emir of Kuwait and to visit the Emirate’s existing Silk Island development project (also funded by China) before the party departed late afternoon.
“It was very professional” says a source connected to the arrangement, who was also impressed by the prospectus sent the following month.
However, these were major long term projects and the source says that what soon became strange was the immediate urgency on the part of Jho Low, who soon began pressing for funds to begin passing through the Kuwaiti side of the venture.
One of the companies in which Sheikh Sabah held a 20% but not a controlling interest in Kuwait was a major commercial group named Al Waseet, which had agreed to become part of the Kuwait side of the venture to facilitate the project.
An observer connected to Al Waseet says the money was not needed in these early stages and that none of the urgency made sense. He soon came to the conclusion that despite the professionalism of the Silk Road corporation, the proposed Kuwaiti mega-fund was being used as a ‘facade for something else': “It was to do a show and seduce – to show all the billions he can bring to the Al Sabah family” says the source.
The alarm bells had first started ringing at Al Waseet when within just days of initial meetings with the Al Sabah family in February Jho Low had sent details of some 20 bogus companies that he had set up in various off-shore entities (primarily the BVI and Cayman Islands) that had been named to give the appearance of being subsidiaries of the well-established Al Waseet.
Sheikh Sabah only owned a 20% share of the actual Al Waseet group, however the bogus subsidiaries were all 100% in his name as the only registered shareholder. The contact name and address for these off-shore companies was none other than a member of staff in the legal and compliance division of Jho Low’s own company Jynwell Capital based in Hong Kong.
Jho Low had taken up the role as an advisor to the Al Sabah family as a strategic investor in the Silk Road project, but no role with Al Waseet.
The use of deceptive off-shore entities to disguise transfers of large sums of money has, of course, emerged as a signature method of Jho Low’s money laundering activities. Time and again he has used similar named companies to well known brands in order to give the impression that the transfers are being carried out by major corporations rather than mere shell companies controlled or owned by him.
We did not expect to be treated like this or to have the company put at risk. Sheikh Sabah had invited us to help facilitate his investments in Kuwait, to which we had agreed. But we had not expected this”.
This was not the only aspect of Jho Low’s method of doing business that troubled the Sheikh’s colleagues at Al Waseet.
The Malaysian financier was obsessive he says about secrecy in their communications, insisting on using special phones and private Russia based ‘Yandex’ accounts supposed to hide were, on the surface of it, normal business discussions. One told Sarawak Report:
“He gave me a Chinese phone with all these applications, even a mailbox on Yandex with my name!”
Notwithstanding such precautions, several of the messages and emails sent by Jho Low in this fashion clearly betray his identity as the author (see message trail).
Then, within days of the opening ceremonies in Kuwait, Al Waseet got a further flavour of Jho Low’s tactics and apparent hidden agenda, after a second set of ceremonies got underway over in China just four days later on 26th April.
The Al Waseet manager had understood that the China meetings were an extension of the same Silk Road engagement protocols and to announce the involvement of another investor in the planned Kuwaiti venture (also introduced by Jho Low) namely the Greenland Property Group, a major development company headquartered in mainland China with a branch in Hong Kong, with whom Jho Low was dealing.
The company sent one of its directors to join Sheihk Sabah, the Kuwaiti Ambassador to China and their new Chinese counterparts in Shanghai to attend what was billed as a country to country event.
“[The Kuwaiti] Prime Minister’s Office informed the Chinese ambassador to Kuwait of the trip and its importance for bilateral relations and informed the Kuwaiti ambassador to Beijing, Mr Mohamed Saleh, who flew from Beijing to Shanghai with Kuwaiti officials to prepare for the reception of the delegation and the ceremony to be held with the flags and the national anthem”
according a source from Al Waseet. However, just before the main ceremony there was an unexpected development involving the company. The company director was instructed by Sheikh Sabah to enter a closed room to take part in the signing of an entirely separate deal involving the sale of Jho Low’s stake in the Park Lane Hotel in New York, which was about to be identified by the FBI as one of the major US assets bought with stolen 1MDB cash.
The deal involved hundreds of pages of closely worded documents drawn up by lawyers (as yet to be identified) that the director was given no time to read, under the title of Project Symphony.
The transaction had the effect of first signing over the ownership of Jho Low’s company Jynwel’s share of the Park Lane Hotel In New York to the bogus Al Waseet International (BVI), one of the offshore subsidiaries created under the ownership of Sheikh Sabah and then immediately engaging in a share swap with Greeland Corporation in Hong Kong, who as a result emerged as the new owners of the shares in the hotel.
The deal left Al Waseet as the second largest shareholder in Greeland and it was then publicly announced that very day in a press release that described the transaction under the title ‘Project Lane Real Estate’ as if it were part of the state to state agreement for the $8 billion investment by the Chinese Silk Road Fund project in Kuwait, even though it merely related to a private property deal funded by stolen Malaysian money in New York.
The press release took care not to mention the identity of the New York property that had changed hands in the deal, describing it only as the ‘Park Lane Project’ and crucially gave the impression that Greeland had purchased the property from Al Waseet rather than the dubious Mr Jho Low.
“Situated at the core of Manhattan’s financial center, the site looks out to an unblocked panoramic view from Central Park to the Hudson River. The Park Lane project will be developed into a world’s top-notch luxury property project … Mr. Yuliang Zhang, Chairman and President of Greenland Group said, “Greenland Group has always been confident in US market and has developed many real estate projects in New York City and Los Angeles.….
The press release then went on to describe the separate Silk Road fund venture in Kuwait as if the projects were in some way connected.
In line with State President Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” vision to foster closer relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Middle East as international strategic partners in terms of economic cooperation, cultural exchange, regional collaboration and financial platform construction, Kuwait Strategic Investor and Greenland Hong Kong will jointly establish the SRIREF with targeted fund size of US$8 billion, and will start in-depth cooperation with several Middle East sovereign funds in the future.
In short, in a lightening move enabled by careful legal preparation, Jho Low had off-loaded his real estate hot potato in New York to a top Chinese company, using as a front a respected major company in the Middle East and an entirely separate state to state deal between China and Kuwait.
“This way Jho Low avoided due diligence by the Chinese public company and the bank over the property, which would have normally accompanied such a sale”
says a source at Al Waseet.
With the company beginning to be compromised in this way, the situation had become difficult for its managers, who nevertheless clearly relied heavily on their relationship with the Al Sabah family in Kuwait and wanted to continue to please and profit, but within the normal boundaries.
Worse, over the coming weeks the Kuwaiti side were to become more and more aware of the concerns about Jho Low and his role in 1MDB, all of which had made him a toxic business partner on the global scene.
Meanwhile, Jho Low himself was clearly still scrambling to find paths to channel the vast sums under his control as global banking institutions and reputable businesses began to close their doors against him.
In this endeavour his new Kuwaiti and Chinese business partners were to become crucial players, Sarawak Report has found, and the Kuwaitis rapidly became sucked into further business plans that again had nothing to do with the initial development projects supposed to be the reason for the business relationship with the Al Sabah family.
For example, Sheikh Sabah was the owner of a bank in the French speaking Comoros Islands BFC (Banque Federale de Commerce). Jho Low had announced he was keen to buy into a network of banks and told his Kuwaiti contacts he was also engaged in buying into a bank in Cyprus (a matter already exposed in Sarawak Report).
The reasons for Jho Low wanting his own bank were obvious. Sarawak Report has likewise reported that one of this close partners, the Thai businessman Laogumnerd, appears to have likewise invested in a Mauritius bank during the same period.
Jho Low came up with what appeared as an irresistible offer for the Sheikh Sabah, which was to buy 50% of BFC in the Comoros at a rate way above its capital value of just US$10 million for €35 million, as long as Sheikh Sabah agreed to remain as the other shareholder (key to adding a respectable and established front for such a remote off-shore concern).
It was at this point, following the June call containing the ‘good news’ about the Chinese agreeing to pick up the “silly situation” with 1MDB, that Jho Low explained to Sheikh Sabah that he would be able to pay for the share of the bank out of the first tranche of the US$3 billion commission promised by CCCC to Najib Razak in return for the inflation of the ECRL project.
Sarawak Report has viewed evidence that confirms the Kuwaiti prime minister’s son, Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah (Sheikh Sabah) agreed to cooperate by receiving the money through companies linked to himself in Kuwait.
Najib duly pushed the new ‘upgraded’ ECRL contract with CCCC through the Malaysian Cabinet in late July (the secret codicil containing the 1MDB repayment targets remaining hidden) and then went to China to ratify the project in November. Sarawak Report has learnt that whilst in Beijing Najib held at least two secret meetings with the fugitive Jho Low.
Meanwhile, in September, the first of the series of kickback payments amounting to 1.4 billion Chinese Yuan (€200 million) arrived in an account in the name of a Kuwait registered concern, Comoro Gulf General Trading & Contracting Company (CG/ Komoros Gulf) at the newly established branch of China’s ICIB Bank in Kuwait, according to bank documents viewed by Sarawak Report, with the promise of a second identical tranche of money due the following month.
An explanatory document for the bank entitled “For ICBC” was drawn up by Jho Low to be presented to account managers to explain the transfers as being part of the arrangement between the Silk Road Fund and Al Sabah family, citing the event with Greenland Property Group earlier in the year in Shanghai:
Background of Transaction and Intention of Funds
- Komoros Gulf for General Trading and Contracting Company (“Komoros Gulf”) is a company led by Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al-Sabah and his partners, and has been in discussions with China Communications Construction Company (“CCCC”) since June 2016 with respect to working with them on being a supplier for various items, together with potentially working with CCCC on projects in Kuwait.
- As you are aware, Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al-Sabah (one of the stakeholders of Komoros Gulf) is the eldest son of the Kuwait Prime Minister, and is very keen to establish strong cooperation between Kuwaiti and Chinese companies after his father’s excellent official visit to China the last few years.
- Infact, just a few months ago, Sheikh Sabah signed a partnership with China Government’s Greenland Group real estate developer to jointly form a US$8b “Silk Road Integrated Real Estate Fund (“SRIREF”) to invest in projects along the “One Belt, One Road” vision…
explained the document. It then went on to claim that ‘Komoros Gulf’ had entered into an agreement linked to this activity to supply bitumen to CCCC in both Africa and South America at advantageous rates. To justify the enormous payments they supplied copies to the bank of supposed invoices to CCCC run up by these activities:
The owners of CG were Sheikh Sabah 5%, a business associate 49% and a sister company named KUC 46%. The first CNY450 million arrived on 13th September into the newly opened Yuan currency account at the bank.
Invoices and bank transfer documents viewed by Sarawak Report show that the September transfer was due to be sent in two separate payments of CNY450 million and CNY900 million made from a Hong Kong based subsidiary of CCCC named True Dragon Properties. A second identical payment was scheduled for October.
Evidence shows that the Sheikh and his associates accepted the payment, although they had been privately led to understand that it was part of a US$3 billion backhander to Najib by Jho Low, whose own notoriety had become widespread owing to the asset seizures announced by the United States Department of Justice earlier in July.
Associates of the Al Sabah family involved in the negotiations confirm that despite the misleading document drawn up for the bank they knew that the money had nothing to do with the proposed Silk Road initiative, which was now being used as a front for transferring the Chinese state company’s backhanders to help Najib cover up 1MDB and secure the rail contract.
However, it was at this point that these machinations driven by Jho Low took a direction which led to ruptures with some of Sheikh Sabah’s business allies at the major established company Al Waseet, in which the Sheikh also held a 20% shareholding.
Straight after the money had arrived in the Comoro Gulf General Trading & Contracting Company (CG) ICBC bank account in Chinese yuan, Jho Low explained that he had a number of ‘life or death’ invoices that now needed to be paid in western currencies, primarily to law firms who had assisted in his various dealings.
Crucially however, he wanted those payments to be made in the name of a known upstanding company, in order for them to be acceptable to the legal firms, and he therefore demanded that a large chunk of the Chinese yuan should be transferred into an Al Waseet main business account in the (Bank of Kuwait) in euros, in order that the invoices could be paid by that company in Sheikh Sabah’s name as a front rather than the payment being seen to be for services to himself.
As detailed in an earlier expose by Sarawak Report, Sheikh Sabah had indeed entered into agreements with a number of law firms and other creditors of Jho Low to cover their fees (given that the businessman could no longer access the global banking system as a wanted fraudster).
A series of instructions drawn up by Jho Low over the handling of the CNY450 million seen by Sarawak Report included a number of invoices from creditors, among them the law firms Kobre & Kim and Gibson Dun & Crutcher as well as the yacht management company WMG and a London based ‘concierge’ company which had all been made out to Sheikh Sabah Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah “c/o Al Waseet International”.
As to why the money was not being used by CG to buy the bitumen requested by True Dragon Properties, but in fact to pay Jho Low’s various bills, Jho to told his Kuwaiti fixers:
The explanation to ICBC Kuwait Bank is that when the next CNY450 million is received, then this will be used to pay for the Bitumen supply to fulfil the contract. Effectively, the first CNY 450 million is the profit margin.
Jho Low’s strategies posed an immediate threat to Al Waseet International’s credibility. By now Jho Low was a known financial fugitive on the run and this would be processing a vast sum of stolen money on his behalf through a respectable company with international clients. “We had auditors and bankers and lawyers to satisfy and could not afford to have this money come through the firm under false pretences”, says one person familiar with the situation.
Meanwhile, the position with BFC Bank in the Comoros had also become scandalous. The chief executive of the Bank in the Comoros had already sent a written request not to proceed with the share sale as he had himself received a warning from his own clearing bank about receiving payments of some two million dollars into the account opened by Jho Low.
The clearing bank would cease to do business with them he explained. Later in December an attempt to process over €26 million from the sale of another Monet through the bank would be stopped, thanks to interventions by the FBI. However, the BFI chief executive took the blame and was imprisoned in the Comoros over the dealings with Jho Low.
“Jho Low had organised a series of fake invoices to justify the 1.4 million yuan payments, which was extremely worrying. Next, he was producing fake invoices for payments by Al Waseet to the various law firms he owed money to, either into euro or dollar accounts. This went right over the boundaries and was very blatant corruption”
a source has told Sarawak Report. After the first series of transactions relating to the CNY450 million were processed therefore the businessman connected to Al Waseet terminated the company’s connections with these dealings.
As part of a separation deal all interests in the Comoro Gulf General Trading & Contracting Company were signed over, in a Letter of Agreement drawn up by Jho Low, to Sheikh Sabah at no cost. In return the invoices which had been presented to Sheikh Sabah c/o Al Waseet were paid out of the CG account and not Al Waseet.
“I contacted Jho Low and told him that I could not cooperate in this matter and I needed to cease to be involved. I explained that I had seen a ten page banking document detailing his misdemeanors and that he was wanted by the law. He became very angry and asked if I was threatening him. He accused me of disloyalty to my “Boss”.
says a former manager linked to these dealings. The episode was to be a turning point in the businessman’s relations in Kuwait as he ceased to do further business with the Al Sabah family and soon became the target, together with his family and associates, of numerous legal attacks by the Al Sabah family.
However, he has confirmed to Sarawak Report his sure understanding that payments continued to be transferred from CCCC to Sheikh Sabah on behalf of Jho Low and Najib as planned over following months, including to a new company that Sheikh Al Sabah created in oct 2016 to continue the transactions named Al Mouniratayen General Trading.
Sarawak Report has viewed invoices that confirm that Jho Low continued during this period to hide out in China, using his new Comoros Island bank account to settle bills with the Peninsular Hotel in Shanghai for example:
Jho Low had also managed to acquire a series of island nation passports thanks to the services of another company, Henley & Partners, in particular from St Kitts & Nevis and also Cyprus, giving him valuable access to the European area.
His new business friends in Kuwait meanwhile were tasked with smoothing his path into their own country by arranging VIP business visas for himself and his long-term sidekick Seet Li Lin.
Thanks to this latest informationSarawak Report has therefore been able to fill in the gaps in Jho Low’s known business activities during this same period as he sought to get himself and Najib off the hook over 1MDB in 2016/17.
It is clear that he was being protected in China not least because he had developed a number of highly placed contacts, including the nephew of the President of China, for whom he was acting as an agent and promising lucrative opportunities in Malaysia and now Kuwait.
These exclusive revelations leave both countries with major questions to answer at the highest official levels regarding their involvement in Malaysia’s financial scandal of the decade.
The prime minister of Kuwait, father of Sheikh Sabah, was removed from office last November amidst allegations of corruption in an unusual scandal for the close-knit family-run Arab state. However, there is no confirmation as to whether the matters of concern were connected to the family’s close involvement with Jho Low’s thefts from Malaysia relating to 1MDB.
Feb 2016 – April 20/21 Jho Low makes visits to Kuwait and presents a ‘strategic proposal’ on the part of the Chinese state Silk Road initiative and CCCC state construction company worth an alleged $8 bn (similar to the backhander sum promised by CCCC’s secret ECRL deal with 1MDB)
April 2016 – Jho sends list of bogus 20 Al Waseet off-shore companies
April 26th – Shanghai trip to get Greenland purchase through Al Waseet of NY Park Lane fronted as part of Silk Road strategic cooperation billed as a Greenland/ Kuwait Ruling Family event
May 2016 – Silk Road/CCCC PPP proposal including ‘facilitation role’ for Sabah family – includes proposal for ‘up-front’ payment by CCCC/Silk Rd of $1.2bn
June 2016 – Jho receives a phone call while in Kuwait and tells his co-conspirators that China has just agreed to “sort out the silly stuff” in return for an ECRL project ‘upgrade’ with $3bn ‘commission’ to Najib that would come through Kuwait. Jho says he can buy 50% Comoros Bank for an inflated value of $35m out of the first tranche of the commission for inflating the ECRL project.
June 25th – Jho Low starts asking for payments to be made to Schillings, K&K and other payments via Al Waseet
July 2016 – SR reports the secret on the ECRL/ CCCC deal just as it is announced to the Cabinet
Aug 2016 – First payments due to be received from the ECRL/CCCC schedule totalling c 1.2bn Yuan/$180m
Sep 2016 – First kickbacks arrive of a total 1.4 billion Chinese Yuan (€200 million) at Kuwait based Comoro Gulf General Trading & Contracting Company (CG/ Komoros Gulf) at ICBC Bank Kuwait – identical tranche is promised for following month.
Payments are explained to ECBC bank as being part of the ‘Silk Road’ project, citing the Greenland property deal and a bogus bitumen contract for construction work. Origin of the money was the CCCC HK subsidiary True Dragon Properties.
Sept 2016 – Jho starts demanding invoices be paid from this money. Wants money transferred in euros to Al Waseet to pay them.
Sept 2016 – Comoros Bank manager asks to halt the sale as clearing banks flagged the $2m sent to an account opened by Jho at the bank
Sept 2016 – Bachar Kiwan terminates the Al Waseet connection to Comoro Gulf General Trading & Contracting Company by signing over all shares to Sheikh Sabah at no cost, meaning Sh Sabah paid the invoices made out to Al Waseet from CG instead. Bachar Kiwan’s relationship with the other conspirators breaks down.
Oct 2016 – incorporation of Al Mouniratayen General Trading to receive more payments. The total amount of money transacted through this account was 1,480,246,400 Kuwaiti Dinars [$4.8 Billion]. Kuwaiti investigations have not disclosed the origin of the cash.
Oct + Nov 2016 – More payments of c 102m Yuan / $14m
Nov 2016 – Najib confirms the rail deal in a China official visit
Dec 2016 – Jho tries to pass 26m euro Monet sale through Comoros bank, stopped by FBI. Bank manager is later jailed
March 2017 China’s Exim Bank provided a loan to the Ministry of Finance owned Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd with which it paid the contractor China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau US$2 billion (RM8.13 billion) or 88 percent of the project value for two pipelines. Much of the money then flowed to the Kuwaiti conspirators via another CCCC subsidiary.
June 2017 Al Asbah International General Trading, incorporated in Kuwait
August 28th 2017 New account receives seven transfers totalling 7,279,500,000 Chinese Yuan (US$1,023,264,028 / RM4,396,993,028) from another CCCC subsidiary Multi-Strategic Investments Limited based in Hong Kong (both Dragon Properties and Multi-Strategic Investments were subsidiaries of Zhen Hua Engineering, which is a subsidiary of China Harbour Engineering in turn a subsidiary of CCCC)
Aug 30th 2017 Bogus Cayman Island Silk Road subsidiary company belonging to Sh Sabah pays the Ministry of Finance subsidiary Sentuhan Budiman Sdn Bhd 4.25 billion yuan (RM2.7 billion/USD 620 million) purportedly to purchase 1MDB’s Ayer Itam. The money is then sent to IPIC to meet debt repayments due on the $3.5 billion loan to bail out 1MDB
June 2018 – Malaysia’s new PH government issues a mutual assistance request with relation to the Silk Road Cayman Island purchase of 1MDB’s Ayer Itam land (fronted by shareholder Sh Sabah and his lawyer).
December 6th 2018 Kuwait authorities inform Malaysia their investigations have produced nothing untoward (amidst evidence of cover-up and instructions to the investigators to drop the case).
Nov 2019 – Sh Sabah’s father removed as PM
May 2020 – Sarawak Report starts a series of exposes on the scandal followed up by other news organisations.
July 2020 – Sh Sabah, his lawyer and Al Wazzan are brought in for questioning and investigations are re-opened into the affair in Kuwait. There is no further cooperation from the Malaysian government following the toppling of PH in March 2020.