It appears that, after eight years as a fugitive, the Jho Low associate, Jasmine Loo, who transferred $16 million dollars stolen from 1MDB into her secret bank account, has finally decided to cut her losses and come home to face the music.
She has manifested in KL and is cooperating with police after being formally arrested.
Sarawak Report first revealed Jamine Loo Ai Swan’s crucial role in the heist from Najib’s sham development fund in March 2015, when we pointed to the dual roles performed by this young lawyer, acting both as an in-house counsel to Sarawak’s UBG Bank (where Jho Low had taken a 49% share in 2008) and at the same time as an in-house counsel and ‘Executive Director of Group Strategy’ at 1MDB.
This was during the exact period that 1MDB was investing a total of $1.803 billion in the hitherto unheard of ‘Saudi oil company,’ PetroSaudi, which had in turn emerged as a surprise buyer for UBG.
Indeed, the PetroSaudi buy-out of UBG was the only activity that had been formally recorded on the part of that company some six years after the Malaysian fund had poured in so much money.
Our question at that time was whether 1MDB’s cash, raised by issuing government backed bonds, had been used simply to buy out a company owned by 1MDB’s secret advisor, Jho Low, and the corrupted ruler of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud?
Documents obtained from the PetroSaudi database, leaked by whistleblower Xavier Justo, confirmed that the PetroSaudi directors were collaborating with Jho Low, Loo and another Jho Low associate, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, in a scheme they named Project Uganda by which this exact transaction took place.
Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, just like Jasmine Loo, turned out to have retained a key position as Executive Director of Investments UBG despite having also moved to simultaneously become the Chief Investment Officer for 1MDB for the duration of the buyout.
He then became the CEO of the equally scandalous 1MDB subsidiary SRC which borrowed RM4 billion from the EPF pension fund, for which again no account was given. Eventually, to hush up demands over where the money had gone SRC was taken over directly by the Ministry of Finance which the kleptocrat prime minister Najib also controlled.
What Sarawak Report was later also able to expose through a further series of leaks was that at the same time Nik Faisal held this position he had also been named as the authorised manager of a set of domestic accounts in the name of Najib himself. Nik Faisal was also the director of the intermediate companies that passed the money from SRC to those accounts!
That information was integral to the SR scoop of July 2nd 2015 showing that task force investigators had established that Nik Faisal had indeed transferred over RM40 million from SRC into those self same accounts that he managed for Najib.
It is on the basis of that theft that Najib is now jailed (with further even greater 1MDB theft charges still progressing through the courts). Meanwhile, in the wake of the original SR reports Nik Faisal, Jasmine Loo and Jho Low had dashed into hiding with their other close associates.
The Sarawak Report team’s on-going researches had meantime unearthed evidence of Jasmine Loo’s even deeper involvement not only in 1MDB’s ongoing thefts but in Jho Low’s social life.
It was to turn out the Loo had been appointed a key signatory to the Tanore Finance Company set up in the name of another Jho Low associate, Eric Tan, in Singapore in 2013. Its role was to transfer money raised from 1MDB’s Goldman Sachs bond issues (there were three such bond issues totalling $6.5 billion 2012-13) into another of Najib’s personal bank accounts in KL
It has also emerged that she played a key role as Jho Low’s lawyer during the framing of those corruptly intentioned bond issues, attending pivotal meetings in London, Los Angeles and News York where the core collaborators devised their scheme and shared confidences about who was to be bribed in order to steal over half the money raised in the name of funding Malaysian development projects.
The only others included in those small secret meetings were the two Goldman Sachs executives who have now been found guilty of this theft and fraud (the Malaysian Roger Ng and South East Asia chief Tim Leissner) Jasmine Loo, again Nik Faisal and Jho himself.
Such was Jasmine’s trusted and crucial role as a lawyer prepared to sign corrupt documentation to facilitate these thefts, acting in her capacity as the legal counsel for 1MDB.
Her reward, as documented by the US Department of Justice and FBI investigators, were payments totalling $16 million that were transferred into her River Dee account at the notorious Falcon Bank, transforming the slip of a young law graduate into a substantially wealthy woman.
She may have offered herself too cheaply, given the rewards enjoyed by others. Indeed, most of the episodes that have now unravelled in the course of this heist involved Jasmine signing important documents that confirmed the ‘legitimate’ nature of the 1MDB bank transfers.
It was therefore of little surprise that when the first ‘Wanted’ notices were issued by the Malaysian task force into the scandal following the original Sarawak Report expose of the PetroSaudi heist in February 2015 Loo was one of the two being hunted. The other was Casey Tang, another Jho Low associate who had been appointed to senior management at 1MDB.
Social media trawls meanwhile revealed that in the process of becoming one of the key professional villains so vital to Jho Low’s success in stealing a total of $5 billion Jasmine had entered his inner circle of friends and had become part of his ‘Hollywood set’.
She was integral to the party circuit cultivated by the fraudster as he sought to impress current and potential future collaborators by spending inordinate amounts of cash in nightclub haunts in Vegas, San Tropez, Sydney and LA.
Jasmine was featured on Facebook as late as Christmas 2015 (together with Riza Aziz’s co-producer on Wolf of Wall Street, Joey McFarland) on a skiing holiday in France with the celebrity couple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. The couple had been paid ludicrous sums by Jho Low for various performance routines and described their ski party companions as “family”.
Other holidays together included trips to Whistler. Loo bought a swanky apartment in East 22nd Street in 2014 for an impressive $4.5 million.
Even after the scandal had broken and they were all keeping a ‘low profile’ Jasmine emerged as a top donor (together with jailed Aabar CEO Mohamed al Husseiny) to Jho Low’s New York charity ball in November 2015 starring … Alicia and Swizz.
She, like the others in Jho’s circle, went below the radar in the days following Sarawak Report’s publication of the PetroSaudi papers. At first they managed to travel outside Malaysia and were effectively protected by the Najib government.
They sought to gain passports in Cyprus and stayed in a variety of safe havens in places such as Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea (Jho still travelled to the Gulf and indeed within Britain and Europe for the next several months).
Eventually, however, as the net closed in after the 2018 election the entire troupe took refuge across the bay from Jho’s Hong Kong headquarters in the gambling centre of Macau.
There the entourage have by and large remained under the protection of a local ‘magnate’ understood to wield considerable influence at the highest levels of government in the ‘incorruptible’ Republic of China.
Life must have started to become pretty unbearable for the gang, trapped in a now permanent party gathering on their hilltop fortress. Visas ran out and clearly attempts were being made to buy a deal that would set them all free.
Only last year, during the backdoor coup government, Najib’s discredited former AG, Apandi Ali, astonishingly mediated an extraordinary attempt at a deal with the Malaysian government to give the gang immunity in return for around half a billion dollars (money yet to be recovered that is hidden by Jho Low).
Jho’s New York law firm, Kobre & Kim, equally astonishingly came to KL to broker this arrangement that was scuppered once the public got to hear about it.
With that last hope dashed and the return of a PH government it seems probable desperation set in. Just five weeks ago another of Jho’s gang, Kee Kok Thiam, was detained in Macau’s clubland, found to be and over-stayer and deported back to KL where he was questioned and bailed by police.
A couple of weeks later he suffered a stroke and passed on. However, his statement remains without a doubt with investigators.
The appearance of Jasmine Loo will have proven far more devastating for Jho Low and those from his family and entourage who remain. It is also a visceral blow to Najib Razak whose trial is reaching a crucial stage.
She is cooperating with the authorities and she is the one who signed the documents and knew exactly what happened and who sanctioned it. The PH government rightly has high hopes that Jasmine will be able to direct them to where the remaining stolen money (including the money she and Jho had attempted to buy their freedom with) can be found.
Sarawak Report suggests one place they will focus will be they role of Rosthschild Bank which is belatedly facing a series of actions by Swiss prosecutors for its role in the 1MDB affair, and at where the assets from the trusts they once managed for Jho Low then went.
The authorities would do well to place this young lady under full protection and to take her fully recorded statements (with timings) as soon as possible.
She may well feel her relatively modest payment of $16 million was not worth this destruction to her life. If so, she should warn others how the ‘highlife’ can well turn into a nightmare existence where crime is involved.