Malaysian 1MDB Fugitive Became Cypriot Citizen in 2015
06 Nov 2019

Cypriot former Interior Minister Sokrates Hasicos denied on Monday media reports saying Malaysian fugitive Jho Taek Low – a key figure in a multi-billion dollar embezzlement scheme – had acquired Cypriot citizenship in 2015 just two days after applying.

Cypriot newspaper Politis said the businessman, known as Jho Low, obtained citizenship through the government’s “Golden Visa” scheme and with the blessing of Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus.

The Archbishop sent two letters to then-Interior Minister Hasicos requesting the naturalisation of Low based on alleged intention to invest in church land.

Low, meanwhile, became known as the mastermind of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, in which he allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks which were diverted from the government-run strategic development fund.

Low was not wanted at the time he applied for citizenship.

However, the Politis report shows that Low had looked into getting a Cyprus passport in the spring of 2015 at a time when 1MBD was already falling under the suspicion of the Malaysian attorney general, who was seeking to determine whether its performance and activities were in line with its objectives announced in 2009.

Thomson Reuters due diligence documents shown in the Politis article listed Low as a risk in the categories of Politically Exposed Persons, Money Laundering, Fraud and Regulatory Breaches, and ‘Other’ Risk Factors.

By Nicholas Flynt, OCCRP, 4 November 2019

Read more at OCCRP

Photo (edited): Abxbay [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

RiskScreen: Eliminating Financial Crime with Smart Technology

Count this content towards your CPD minutes, by signing up to our CPD Wallet

FREE CPD Wallet