Low Taek Jho (刘特佐; born 4 November 1981), often called Jho Low, is a Malaysian financier and the beneficiary of numerous discretionary trust assets said by the US Government to originate from payments out of the Malaysian 1MDB fund. He gained notoriety as a “tabloid party boy” in New York City. Low has been associated with numerous high value transactions, including acquisitions of businesses, luxury real estate and art, as well as philanthropy.
Low grew up in George Town, on Penang Island. His grandfather Low Meng Tak was a businessman born in Guangdong in China. Meng Tak had interests in iron-ore mining, liquor distilleries, and real estate in China and Thailand in the 1960s and 1970s. Jho Low’s father “Larry” Low Hock Peng was an executive for an investment holding company called MWE Holdings in the 1990s.
Low was the youngest of three children. He attended Chung Ling High School and The International School of Penang (Uplands) before being sent to the elite Harrow School in London. In London, he developed a “close relationship” with Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. He then enrolled in the undergraduate program of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, where he continued to develop connections with Malaysians as well as Kuwaiti and Jordanian interests.
Low can speak Malay, English, Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew.
Although earlier in his career, Low had often claimed to be investing and making purchases on behalf of other investors or “friends”, in 2015 Low suggested that his family had considerable independent means. While a 2015 New York Times article suggested that his family was of “somewhat deflated affluence,” a 2014 Wall Street Journal profile had called him a “scion” and estimated his family wealth at US$1.75 billion.
According to the New York Times, “[b]y 2007, [Low] had formed an investment group that included a Malaysian prince, a Kuwaiti sheikh and a friend from the United Arab Emirates who went on to become ambassador to the United States and Mexico.” Low is the principal steward of Jynwel Capital, along with older brother Szen Low. He has cultivated relationships with some of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, including Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co and the Kuwait Investment Authority. Jynwel is connected with deals including the acquisition of New York’s Park Lane Hotel for US$660 million in 2013 with The Witkoff Group and Mubadala; the takeover of Coastal Energy in 2014 for US$2.2 billion; and the buyout of EMI’s music publishing business in 2012 for US$2.2 billion with the Blackstone Group, Sony Corporation and Mubadala. Low was the architect for Jynwel Capital’s bid to buy Reebok from Adidas AG in October 2014. The bid was for US$2.2 billion.
Low advises Aziz in the management of Red Granite Pictures, a Hollywood production company responsible for films such as Wolf of Wall Street and Dumb and Dumber To. Recovery of the rights in both movies were the subject of actions for recovery by the US Government in 2013 and 2016, respectively, as procured from the alleged proceeds of misappropriation of funds.
Najib Razak gained the post of Malaysian Prime Minister in 2009. Soon, he became president of the board of advisers for 1MDB, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. Although Low never received an official position, he admits that he occasionally “consulted” with 1MDB, and was involved in a number of transactions connecting his own interests with those of 1MDB.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that a $33.5 million condominium in Manhattan was owned by a shell company under control of Low’s family trust, and then was transferred to a shell company controlled by Razak’s stepson.Another “home in Beverly Hills known as the pyramid house for a gold pyramid in its garden” was owned by a shell company controlled by the Low family trust, and was transferred to Razak’s stepson by simply transferring control of the shell company to him.
In October 2016, Interpol published a red notice at Singapore’s request to locate Jho Low in an investigation related to 1MDB fund flows within its jurisdiction.
In June 2017, the US Government, in civil proceedings brought against certain assets in the Central District of California, sought return of US$540 million worth of assets derived from an alleged $4.5 billion misappropriation from the Malaysian 1MDB wealth fund.
After the Malaysian general election in 2018, Malaysia renewed investigations into the 1MDB scandal and issued arrest warrants against Low and former SRC International director, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.
According to SCMP reports, Jho Low is still involved in affairs of his Hong Kong companies. He signed documents for private equity firm Jynwel Capital and non-profit group Jynwel Charitable Foundation in July 2018, even though he is allegedly on the run from Malaysian authorities looking to arrest him in connection with the 1MDB scandal.
Consistent with his personal connections to the Razak family, Low supported the Prime Minister during the 2013 elections. For instance, he organised a free pro-government concert in his home state of Penang. The concert featured American musicians Busta Rhymesand Ludacris and was criticised as unfair electioneering by the local, opposition government.
Low dated socialite Paris Hilton, Taiwanese singer Elva Hsiao and supermodel Miranda Kerr. Low gained early notoriety by spending extravagant sums in New York and Las Vegas parties, as well as a luxurious but ultimately failed MYR 5.5 million marriage proposal to Hsiao.
Hiding in China
Whistle-blower Kwok Miles mentioned Jho Low hiding in China several times in his previous Youtube whistle-blowing talk shows. In recent days, Miles finally linked 1MDB to two high-profile financial ponzi schemes in China.
Fanya Metal Exchange in Kunming, China and Ezubao, China’s top online peer-to-peer lending platform blew up completely wiping out 15 billion dollars of naive investors money who blindly trusted government endorsement of both. These two ponzi schemes affected close to 1 million families.
Miles linked both ponzi schemes to head of China’s judicial system, Meng Jianzhu, who is a minion of former President Jiang’s son. Miles has direct proof of wire transfers that traced the money to 1MDB and other destinations.
Miles also linked the Chinese-controlled casino in golden triangle and several bomb attacks to Meng.
Miles claims that he has spent millions of dollars to gather evidence and will continue his whistle-blowing for at least three years.