June 7, 2018 / 12:19 PM / a year ago

Malaysia plans arrest of financier Jho Low, former Goldman banker - Bloomberg

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 (Reuters) - Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for financier Low Taek Jho, wanted for questioning in a graft probe involving former prime minister Najib Razak and state fund 1MDB, Bloomberg said on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Malaysian authorities are also preparing warrants for two more individuals, including a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker, Roger Ng, Bloomberg added.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has issued an arrest warrant for Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, a director of SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and is preparing warrants for the fund’s ex-chief, Shahrol Halmi, Bloomberg said.

The anti-graft agency, a lawyer for Low, or Jho Low as he is popularly known, and Shahrol did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative of MACC declined to comment to Bloomberg.

Reuters was unable to reach Ng and Nik Faisal immediately.

Bloomberg said the four individuals had not been charged with wrongdoing, and it was not clear what suspicions underpinned the warrants.

On Thursday, MACC issued a notice for Low and Nik Faisal to contact it immediately to help in its investigation. Low, through his lawyers, said he would cooperate.

Empowered by a new government elected last month, the agency has relaunched a probe into why $10.6 million from SRC was transferred into Najib’s bank account.

Anti-graft agents have questioned both Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor, following his shock election defeat last month to former mentor-turned-foe Mahathir Mohamad.

Low was regarded as close to Najib and his family and is seen as a central figure in the 1MDB affair, having allegedly advised on investments and negotiated deals, though he never held any official role in the fund.

The U.S. Department of Justice has alleged that more than $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, and about $700 million of that went to Najib’s personal bank accounts.

Najib, who founded 1MDB in 2009, has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Goldman Sachs had helped 1MDB raise $6.5 billion in three bond sales in 2012 and 2013 to invest in energy projects and real estate to boost the Malaysian economy.

Instead, more than $2.5 billion raised from those bonds was misappropriated and used to buy artwork, luxury properties in New York and London and to pay off gambling debts in Las Vegas, the U.S. Justice Department has alleged.

The bank said in November it had received requests from “various government bodies” and was cooperating, Bloomberg said. (Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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