Where did Jho Low hide his money?
One of the intriguing aspects to emerge from the later confirmed leaks of recent negotiations between the Malaysian government and Jho Low’s lawyers is the alleged offer of a Payment of RM1.5 billion by the fugitive in exchange for the dropping of charges.
Jho Low was apparently asking for the return of his passport to give him the freedom to travel to sort out his things and get the money. So where would he have hidden such a sum – we are talking about the equivalent of 350 million US dollars which he offered to pay to the Malaysian “authorities”, in addition he probably had another sum of money in mind for him -same.
There is of course the frozen treasure of more than $1 billion in Kuwait – stemming in part from money allegedly paid by Najib (who claims he was lied to and driven by the nose) to a Chinese construction company as a massive down payment on a bogus pipeline project in 2017.
However, it would seem unlikely that the Gulf State authorities would be willing to simply hand over this stolen money to the world’s most notorious thief, still in cahoots with his convicted boss Najib and their lying agent Apandi.
The conclusion must therefore be that there are more accessible sums carefully kept elsewhere that Jho Low thinks he can access once he gets his Malaysian passport back.
It would be money or assets that US authorities have not yet identified for seizure or that he has managed to remove from their clutches in some other way. Perhaps they are hidden under trusts or assets whose ownership has been concealed from the unwitting and deceived officials who hold them in trust?
Perhaps there is a problem that offshore trust managers and Swiss banks have for too long tended to take the word of people like Jho Low when it comes to declaring ownership and origin of cash and therefore failed to spot the dirty money on their books until investigators like the FBI arrived and reported it?
Could other assets not yet identified by the FBI still be managed under these accounts?
Take, for example, the panoply of trusts and accounts held by Jho Low under the Trust Management branch of the Swiss Rothschild Bank. We know that before the American authorities knocked on their door, Rothschild Zurich managed more than 60 separate accounts for the Malaysian fraudster (just like BSI in Singapore).
Those familiar with these banking operations suggest that each of these accounts was likely to have facilitated a separate trust representing properties and assets held, for example, in New Zealand, which was a popular tax haven often chosen by the Lows. to register such devices.
When the FBI identified that many of the businesses of Jho Low and his family funded by 1MDB thefts were indeed owned by Rothschild Trust Management through New Zealand trusts in 2016, it certainly caused a stir.
The bank, which seeks to live by its former reputation (and also secrecy for its customers) immediately reported its cooperation with US investigators and agreed to freeze and return the trusts.
At the same time, and far from a coincidence according to insiders, the bank decided to divest entirely from its trust business. “This [the 1MDB affair] was a blow and a threat to their reputation and the danger of having trusts that are not kept away from a bank is that conflicts will arise” explains an industry observer.
With Swiss investigators now forced to look into that side of the bank’s operations, it was easier, insiders surmised, to cut trust business altogether in order to present regulators with a “cleansed operation.”
The result was a ‘management buyout’ of the entire fiduciary arm of Swiss-based Rothschild Bank which took place in 2019. Former senior Rothschild executives simply spun off from this business, through a loan from the bank itself and additional support from their original employer, and reconstituted an “independent” entity under the name of sequential.
In reality, “the two professions are still completely intertwined”, explains a person in a position to know. Sequent depends on the bank’s own ongoing guarantee, which reassures customers, and all custody services remain outsourced to Rothschild.
At the same time that these damage limitation maneuvers were unfolding in Switzerland, the Low family was making their own trips to New Zealand to counter the surrender of their trusts to the US foreclosure process.
Thanks to a judgment by Judge Toogood, the Lows were allowed by the New Zealand courts to drop Rothschilds as trustees and appoint a Cayman-based, New Zealand-run trust group, namely FFP (Caiman) Limitedwho was willing to challenge the asset freeze.
All 25 trusts identified by the FBI as the proceeds of money laundering have therefore been placed under the new custody of this offshore company.
Perhaps coincidentally, one of the key management figures who had managed the multi-million dollar Jho Low trusts originally for Rothschild also left Sequent for FFP Cayman Islands.
It was Tia Healey who now holds a senior position at FFP as director of fiduciary services, having traveled the world in her previous existence to service the needs of the many assets and accounts of the former Rothschild main client. As his biography explains:
Prior to joining FFP, Tia was Senior Trust Manager and Co-Head of Administration at the Zurich office of Sequent AG, formerly Rothschild Trust AG. Tia led a team focused on administering fiduciary structures with global holdings in bankable and non-bankable assets, private equity, real estate and art for multi-jurisdictional families and their family offices. Oat Rothschild Tia spent time in her Hong Kong office working with Asian clients
Having been Jho Low’s trusted manager at Rothschild, it appears Ms Healey has moved at sequential speed to companies that have taken over these “fiduciary duties”.
FFP ultimately failed in its attempt to defend the trusts targeted by the US Department of Justice. The asset seizure was confirmed and in October 2019 (just when Healy joined FFP) a regulation was entered into to dispose of $700 million of assets of these trusts.
Criminal charges were later filed separately against Jho Low, along with Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng, for his role in embezzling billions of dollars in bonds raised on behalf of 1MDB. Therefore, although the property in question was settled and disposed of, Jho Low and his family remained firmly on the run.
So with all these asset and management moves, some of Jho Low’s remaining millions could still remain in family trusts not identified by the FBI, secret perhaps under a misleading identity to confuse managers and trustees. changing?
Sarawak Report queried FFP Cayman Islands to find out if an attempt was made to match Jho Low’s more than 60 bank accounts at Rothschild with corresponding trusts that may have represented other assets?
After all, the number of trusts seized amounted to only 17 listed trusts representing assets and properties in London, New York, California and Singapore.
If the remaining assets once held in Rothschild had now been moved, say, to the sheltered darkness under the shady palm trees of the notorious Cayman Islands tax haven, this would provide a perfect place from which a rampaging Jho Low could cash them in. in.
In the event of strict denials, those seeking the rest of 1MDB’s stolen loot should act on Jho Low’s own denunciation that at least RM1.5 billion remains at large. A treasure hunt for offshore paradises is clearly the starting point.