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.
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
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