A Key Player in Malaysia's Biggest-Ever Corruption Scandal Found Sanctuary in Cyprus With Help From a Major London Firm

Despite pub­lic denials, well-known cit­i­zen­ship bro­ker Henley & Partners helped dis­graced financier Jho Low, who stands accused of steal­ing bil­lions from Malaysian sov­er­eign wealth fund 1MDB, obtain a pass­port from Cyprus.

Jho Taek Low had bil­lions of dol­lars, but he was run­ning out of places to put them.

By 2015, the Malaysian financier had become the face of the now-infa­mous 1MDB embez­zle­ment scan­dal. His theft of bil­lions from Malaysia’s sov­er­eign wealth fund had been wide­ly report­ed. So had the trail of splashy pur­chas­es he made around the world: a trans­par­ent grand piano for super­mod­el Miranda Kerr, a New York City pent­house once owned by Jay‑Z, a $6‑million emer­ald green soup can paint­ed by Andy Warhol, an entire hotel in Beverly Hills.

Banks were increas­ing­ly wary of him. So were gov­ern­ments. He was under inves­ti­ga­tion by law enforce­ment in Singapore and Switzerland. U.S. author­i­ties were clos­ing in, too. He need­ed a safe refuge for both him­self and his money.

To solve these prob­lems, Low turned to the sun­ny east­ern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where, with a view to estab­lish­ing a new finan­cial foothold, he pur­chased cit­i­zen­ship in 2015 under the country’s con­tro­ver­sial “gold­en pass­port” scheme.

Technically known as Citizenship By Investment, the pro­gram was meant to attract wealthy for­eign­ers seek­ing European Union pass­ports. But in the eyes of crit­ics, its main effect was to make Cyprus a go-to des­ti­na­tion for klep­to­crats and crim­i­nals who want to pay their way into the bloc. It also proved lucra­tive for a small army of lawyers and finan­cial ser­vice providers who greased the wheels.

The pro­gram was ditched last October after a damn­ing inves­ti­ga­tion by Al Jazeera exposed local politi­cians offer­ing to help a fic­ti­tious Chinese crim­i­nal get cit­i­zen­ship. The cir­cum­stances under which Low received his gold­en pass­port are under scruti­ny by Cypriot authorities.

Now, an inves­ti­ga­tion by OCCRP and the Sarawak Report can reveal pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed details about how Low obtained Cypriot cit­i­zen­ship — and who helped him do it.

Credit: sabung.hamster/CC by‑S.A. 4.0

The com­pa­ny has repeat­ed­ly denied help­ing Low, while blam­ing local employ­ees for any mis­takes that were made. But invoic­es and oth­er doc­u­ments obtained by OCCRP show that Henley pock­et­ed at least 710,000 euros for ser­vices it pro­vid­ed to him. The bulk of its earn­ings came from a 650,000-euro com­mis­sion Low paid for his pur­chase of a lux­u­ry sea­side villa.

Acquiring local real estate worth at least half a mil­lion euros was a require­ment of the Cypriot visa pro­gram. This pro­vid­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for cit­i­zen­ship firms like Henley to pad their earn­ings by serv­ing the addi­tion­al role of a real estate broker. 

Some of the assets Low pur­chased with alleged­ly stolen funds. From top: The “Tranquility” yacht, a paint­ing by Claude Monet, and a hotel in Beverly Hills.

In any major scan­dal there’s always a mul­ti­tude of enablers that allow the move­ment of the mon­ey, and in doing so they allow the fraud to con­tin­ue,” said Debra LaPrevotte, a for­mer FBI spe­cial agent who was involved in the ini­tial stages of the 1MDB investigation.

Every sin­gle one of those peo­ple has some type of due dili­gence respon­si­bil­i­ty. Yet they ignore it, and by enabling the move­ment of this mon­ey they don’t see the sec­ondary effect of this, that the bil­lions that left Malaysia should have been help­ing the peo­ple of Malaysia.”

A “Staggering” Amount of Stolen Money

In July 2016, the U.S. Justice Department filed a com­plaint alleg­ing that over $3.5 bil­lion had been mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a fund cre­at­ed by the gov­ern­ment of Malaysia to pro­mote eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, between 2009 and 2015. (That fig­ure would lat­er be revised upwards to $4.5 bil­lion.) The mon­ey was stolen by high-lev­el fund offi­cials and their asso­ciates, then laun­dered through a series of com­plex trans­ac­tions and fraud­u­lent shell com­pa­nies with bank accounts in Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the United States.

The com­plaint named Low as the mas­ter­mind behind the theft. He was accused of laun­der­ing more than $400 mil­lion that had been divert­ed from the fund. Much of it end­ed up in the U.S. in the form of lux­u­ry real estate, jew­el­ry, and icon­ic art­works, includ­ing a Monet and a Van Gogh. Stolen 1MDB mon­ey was also spent on gifts for some of Low’s famous friends, includ­ing Leonardo DiCaprio — who received the Oscar stat­uette Marlon Brando had won for “On The Waterfront.” Some of the mon­ey was also alleged­ly used to fund the pro­duc­tion of “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Low has denied any wrong­do­ing in the 1MDB affair, insist­ing he was just an inter­me­di­ary and that the charges against him are polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed. His where­abouts are unknown, and two law firms rep­re­sent­ing him in the U.S. and U.K. did not respond to requests for comment.

Credit: Sadiq Asyraf/AP Protesters hold plac­ards read­ing “Save Malaysia, Arrest the Thief” dur­ing a protest in Kuala Lumpur call­ing for the arrest of Jho Low.

Serving the Global Elite

In the world of cit­i­zen­ship for sale, ser­vice providers are key. These com­pa­nies iden­ti­fy tar­get nations, man­age the required invest­ments, and do every­thing else need­ed to help the world’s wealth­i­est peo­ple become “glob­al cit­i­zens,” as their mar­ket­ing lan­guage tends to phrase it.

And there is no ser­vice provider more sought after than Henley & Partners, a London-based con­sul­tan­cy that bills itself as “the glob­al leader in res­i­dence and cit­i­zen­ship planning.”

While Henley boasts of its exclu­sive client list and high-lev­el con­nec­tions, it has emphat­i­cal­ly denied any con­nec­tion with Low. In November 2019, the com­pa­ny released a state­ment reject­ing media reports that it had helped the Malaysian fugitive.

But doc­u­ments obtained by OCCRP indi­cate that Henley did, in fact, play a role in bro­ker­ing Low’s Cypriot cit­i­zen­ship –– and that it received a hefty com­mis­sion for its services.

Low signed a con­tract with Henley on May 7, 2015, accord­ing to a copy of the doc­u­ment obtained by OCCRP. By that time, he was already emerg­ing in the pub­lic eye as a key play­er in the 1MDB saga.The first sec­tion of the client agree­ment between Henley & Partners and Jho Low, signed on May 7, 2015. (Click to see more.)

Less than four months lat­er, he had a Cypriot pass­port in his hands after pur­chas­ing a 5‑mil­lion-euro beach­front vil­la from a real estate firm part­nered with Henley.

In a series of emails, Henley & Partners told OCCRP that it had reject­ed Low as a client “due to the con­tents of an exter­nal due dili­gence report that made it clear that he was a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion PEP [polit­i­cal­ly exposed person].”

To be very clear, Jho Low was nev­er a client of Henley & Partners,” the firm said in a three-page state­ment. “Henley & Partners was not man­dat­ed by Jho Low.”

The com­pa­ny con­tin­ued to deny any rela­tion­ship even after being pre­sent­ed with doc­u­men­tary evi­dence. “We can how­ev­er under­stand a lev­el of con­fu­sion from out­side observers as to the nature of the rela­tion­ship,” a spokesper­son wrote.

Henley & Partners said that after reject­ing Low, it referred him to FidesCorp Services Limited, a Cyprus-based account­ing firm that also pro­vides cit­i­zen­ship ser­vices. Henley & Partners wrote that it had “no inter­est” in FidesCorp and had an “ad hoc rela­tion­ship” with the com­pa­ny, which it said pro­vid­ed “com­ple­men­tary and non-com­pet­i­tive ser­vices to a sim­i­lar client base.”

In fact, the two com­pa­nies have worked close­ly togeth­er for years, with the head of FidesCorp even help­ing Henley set up its Cyprus office.

Leaked emails and finan­cial doc­u­ments obtained by OCCRP indi­cate that FidesCorp played a role in arrang­ing Low’s Cypriot affairs, but that the rela­tion­ship with Low was ini­ti­at­ed and led by Henley & Partners.

In this way, Henley appears to have used FidesCorp as a shield to avoid scruti­ny over its rela­tion­ship with Low, even as it earned hun­dreds of thou­sands of euros on com­mis­sions relat­ed to his pur­chase of a Cypriot pass­port, the doc­u­ments show.

A New York Times arti­cle cast­ing sus­pi­cion on the source of Low’s huge wealth was ref­er­enced in a due-dili­gence report com­mis­sioned by Henley & Partners.

They also show that Henley & Partners worked with Low until at least late November 2016, by which time his close ties to the 1MDB fraud were wide­ly known.

Due Diligence Done?

Service providers such as Henley & Partners have a legal oblig­a­tion to look into their clients’ back­grounds to make sure they are not facil­i­tat­ing mon­ey laundering.

If a client appears to be a PEP, or polit­i­cal­ly exposed per­son, they are sup­posed to be exam­ined with even more scruti­ny, since they’re at high­er risk of being involved in cor­rup­tion. The rules also apply to real estate agents.

In Low’s case, it would not have tak­en long to uncov­er trou­bling infor­ma­tion about his wealth.

As of February 2015 there was pub­licly avail­able infor­ma­tion and media arti­cles con­nect­ing Jho Low with the 1MDB scan­dal,” LaPrevotte, the for­mer FBI agent, told OCCRP. “Anybody doing any due dili­gence should have seen them.”

Henley & Partners did see them. The con­tract it signed with Low con­tains an attached pro­file from World-Check, a com­mer­cial data­base of high-risk indi­vid­u­als. The pro­file cor­rect­ly iden­ti­fies Low as a PEP for being a “close asso­ciate” of Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime min­is­ter at the time, who has since been sen­tenced to jail for send­ing 1MDB funds to his per­son­al bank accounts.

In the doc­u­ment, Low is described as the Chief Executive Officer of Jynwel Capital Limited, the Hong Kong finan­cial ser­vices firm the U.S. Department of Justice says fun­neled mon­ey stolen from 1MDB.

One lengthy New York Times inves­ti­ga­tion cit­ed in the pro­file detailed exten­sive con­cerns about Low’s lav­ish spend­ing and opaque real estate deals, giv­en his close ties to Razak.

Speculation is brew­ing over where Low is get­ting his mon­ey from,” it quot­ed anoth­er news out­let as saying.

Maira Martini, a pol­i­cy expert at Transparency International, said that if Henley saw Low as too high-risk for its cit­i­zen­ship bro­ker­ing busi­ness, it should have avoid­ed work­ing on his behalf as a real estate bro­ker, too.

Did they also take into account the lev­el of risk when sup­port­ing him to find a prop­er­ty in Cyprus?” she asked.

Leaked emails obtained by OCCRP show the company’s own employ­ees active­ly work­ing to help Low obtain citizenship.

In order to qual­i­fy, Low chose to pay a local devel­op­er $5 mil­lion euros to build him a vil­la on a prime plot of beach­front land in Ayia Napa, an east­ern Cyprus resort town whose white-sand beach­es and turquoise waters made it a prime des­ti­na­tion for investors seek­ing passports.

In an email to Low on June 21, 2015, Yiannos Trisokkas, at the time Henley & Partners’ man­ag­ing part­ner in Cyprus and chair­man of the firm’s real estate com­mit­tee, out­lined the next steps.

We have already instruct­ed our exclu­sive local ser­vice provider and the com­pa­nies are ready with the nom­i­nee ser­vices includ­ed as well,” he wrote. “Once the con­tract of sale is signed for the vil­la between the sell­er and the buy­er (your com­pa­ny), then the nom­i­nee will be sign­ing fur­ther to your writ­ten instructions.”

Trisokkas instruct­ed Low to trans­fer 5,960,000 euros for the house to an escrow account in Cyprus that had been set up for him by FidesCorp on instruc­tions by Henley & Partners

The Cypriot firm FidesCorp invoiced Jho Low 80,000 euros for help­ing arrange his cit­i­zen­ship application.

That amount, he not­ed, did not include what Low would need to pay for “any­thing relat­ed to your cit­i­zen­ship appli­ca­tion.” He asked Jennifer Lai, Henley’s head of busi­ness at the time, whether she had invoiced Low for the application.

The next day, on June 22, FidesCorp invoiced Low 80,000 euros for “our fees and expens­es in rela­tion to pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices ren­dered.” Out of this sum, 60,000 euros were then sent to Henley — a pay­ment the com­pa­ny described as a refer­ral fee.

Due to long stand­ing con­tracts that were then in place, but are now amend­ed, H&P was in the posi­tion to invoice Fidescorp for com­mis­sion pay­ment for the refer­ral,” the com­pa­ny said.

Invoices issued by two of Henley’s sub­sidiaries, Henley & Partners Cyprus Limited and Henley & Partners Hong Kong Limited, to FidesCorp Limited. They show that, out of the 80,000-euro cit­i­zen­ship fee paid by Jho Low, Henley’s share was 60,000 euros.

Three days after Trisokkas’s June email, 5,960,000 euros were trans­ferred from Low’s per­son­al account at the Abu Dhabi State Fund-owned Falcon Private Bank to the client escrow account at Bank of Cyprus set up by FidesCorp, accord­ing to a report draft­ed by a Cypriot gov­ern­ment inves­tiga­tive committee.

According to the report, Deutsche Bank act­ed as a cor­re­spon­dent bank in the trans­ac­tion. A Deutsche Bank spokesper­son said that “for legal rea­sons we can­not pro­vide any infor­ma­tion on poten­tial or exist­ing client rela­tion­ships.” The Bank of Cyprus did not respond to a request for comment.

Henley’s assis­tance to Low did not stop there. Leaked emails show that in late November 2016, Low changed his mind about the pur­chase. He emailed Trisokkas to say he want­ed to build his house on a larg­er plot than the one he ini­tial­ly acquired.

Trisokkas swift­ly replied, offer­ing a big­ger beach­front plot in the same area that would have “more pri­va­cy,” before agree­ing to scrap the old con­tract and sign a new one “under the same terms and con­di­tions.” A new pur­chase agree­ment was signed sev­en months lat­er, in June 2017.

We remain entire­ly cer­tain that this firm did noth­ing wrong,” Henley wrote in a state­ment to OCCRP, under­lin­ing the words for emphasis.

However, it admit­ted, “It may be that some indi­vid­ual staff mem­bers involved at the time did not act as one team or failed to adhere to the new pro­ce­dures or did not exer­cise a suf­fi­cient lev­el of judg­ment as to their inter­ac­tion with real estate partners.”

The firm added that “all pos­si­bly involved and respon­si­ble per­sons are no longer with the firm today,” includ­ing Jennifer Lai and Yiannos Trisokkas.

Henley and Partners in 2021 is not the Henley [and] Partners of 2010, or of 2015–17,” the com­pa­ny said. “There has been a series of sig­nif­i­cant changes both in terms of senior man­age­ment and in terms of gov­er­nance, struc­ture and processes.”

Indeed, accord­ing to her LinkedIn pro­file, Lai left the com­pa­ny in September 2020, after spend­ing near­ly five years as a man­ag­ing partner.

However, as of mid-January 2021, Trisokkas was still a direc­tor of Henley & Partners Cyprus Limited, accord­ing to cor­po­rate doc­u­ments. His pro­file was removed from Henley’s web­site in ear­ly January, short­ly after OCCRP sent Henley an email inquir­ing about its role in bro­ker­ing Low’s citizenship.

FidesCorp declined to com­ment, cit­ing client con­fi­den­tial­i­ty. “In light of the fact that an inves­ti­ga­tion is cur­rent­ly in progress by the author­i­ties of the Republic of Cyprus, we are oblig­ed to refrain from mak­ing any state­ments,” the firm added. 

A view of Valletta in Malta, where a Henley & Partners sub­sidiary helped bro­ker real estate deals for clients seek­ing cit­i­zen­ship in Cyprus.

A Mysterious Intermediary

The bulk of Henley & Partners’ earn­ings from Low came not from the “cit­i­zen­ship fee” he paid, but from a large com­mis­sion a Henley sub­sidiary charged him on his pur­chase of the water­front property.

This com­mis­sion — 650,000 euros, or an unusu­al­ly high 13 per­cent of the property’s sales price — was paid to Henley Estates Limited, a Maltese com­pa­ny that had been set up in 2010 by Andrew Taylor, a bro­ker who worked with Henley on real estate deals for cit­i­zen­ship ser­vices. He was lat­er hired, and by 2015 the com­pa­ny had been ful­ly inte­grat­ed into Henley & Partners.

On his LinkedIn page, Taylor list­ed him­self as Henley & Partners’ vice-chair­man until ear­ly January, when he removed the title short­ly after OCCRP sub­mit­ted ques­tions to Henley & Partners about the Low deal.

Henley & Partners told OCCRP that because Henley Estates had start­ed out as an inde­pen­dent com­pa­ny set up by Taylor, it had retained some of its old con­tacts and busi­ness prac­tices. Henley Estates some­times received pay­ments for its work bro­ker­ing prop­er­ty deals for local devel­op­ers, but had nev­er been paid by Low, the com­pa­ny said.

Any engage­ment between Jho Low and H&P staff, if any, was a result of Henley’s long-stand­ing posi­tion as an agent of mul­ti­ple real estate devel­op­ers,” the com­pa­ny wrote. 

A receipt show­ing the trans­fer of 650,000 euros from Jho Low’s client escrow account at Bank of Cyprus to Henley Estates in Malta

At no point did any per­son or enti­ty with­in the H&P Group struc­ture, includ­ing Henley Estates, ever con­tract or receive income direct­ly from Jho Low. They con­tract­ed and received income from long stand­ing cor­po­rate and real estate partners.”

However, OCCRP has found that this is incor­rect. According to a trans­fer receipt obtained by reporters, Low him­self paid the 650,000-euro fee direct­ly to Henley Estates, from the account in Cyprus set up for him by FidesCorp.

The deal was shroud­ed in secre­cy and con­duct­ed with the help of mul­ti­ple shell com­pa­nies and nom­i­nee ser­vice providers — firms that offer “nom­i­nees” to act on behalf of oth­er com­pa­nies, to keep their true own­ers hidden.

In short, the vil­la was sold by SkyPrime, a local real-estate devel­op­er with high-lev­el con­nec­tions, and a long­time part­ner of Henley in Cyprus. It adver­tis­es itself as cater­ing to “high net worth individuals.”

However, parts of the trans­ac­tion were processed through a shell com­pa­ny called Donnica Management Limited, which has no web­site or pub­lic pres­ence and was reg­is­tered in May 2015, the same month Low inked his con­tract with Henley. The com­pa­ny appears to have been set up for the sole pur­pose of facil­i­tat­ing the deal — and obscur­ing any con­nec­tion to Low. It was Donnica, not SkyPrime, that received Low’s pay­ment for the vil­la. And it was Donnica, not Low, that was invoiced by Henley & Partners for its com­mis­sion fee.

Donnica and SkyPrime appear to be con­nect­ed, since they have the same address, direc­tors, and ulti­mate share­hold­er. But both com­pa­nies have hid­den their true own­ers behind a nom­i­nee ser­vice provider.

Nominees fill cor­po­rate posts to keep the true own­ers of com­pa­nies secret. In this case, the nom­i­nee ser­vice provider con­ceal­ing the own­ers of both Donnica and SkyPrime was run by a part­ner in the Cypriot law firm Tsitsios & Associates.

The law firm declined to com­ment on the Low case, but it has worked with Henley before, accord­ing to this inter­net post writ­ten by one of its asso­ciates, which boasts of the com­pa­nies’ “long-stand­ing synergy.”

When con­front­ed with evi­dence that it had received a large pay­ment from Low, Henley main­tained it had done noth­ing wrong, but con­ced­ed that the real estate trans­ac­tion was “an exam­ple from which Henley & Partners should and did learn.”

Maira Martini, a pol­i­cy expert on cor­rupt mon­ey flows at Transparency International, ques­tioned the ethics of reject­ing Low as a client, then prof­it­ing from sell­ing him real estate.

As a PEP and high-risk client, accord­ing to H&P’s own assess­ment, they should have under­tak­en enhanced due dili­gence and report­ed any sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions to author­i­ties,” she said.

Instead of that, they [not only] decid­ed to refer the client to anoth­er firm in exchange for a fat com­mis­sion for the cit­i­zen­ship appli­ca­tion, but seem to have con­tin­ued behind the scenes to assist Low to find a real estate prop­er­ty in Cyprus — for an even fat­ter commission.”

A 1MDB Enclave in Cyprus?

Low wasn’t the only per­son involved in the 1MDB scan­dal who was seek­ing E.U. cit­i­zen­ship. OCCRP has found that around the same time he applied for Cypriot cit­i­zen­ship, one of his clos­est 1MDB asso­ciates did too. His broth­er, who helped him fun­nel mil­lions of dol­lars out of Malaysia, then applied in September 2015, as did anoth­er close aide. All three list­ed Cyprus address­es in the same area as Low’s villa.

Low’s broth­er and two asso­ciates who applied for Cypriot cit­i­zen­ship are all accused by the U.S. Justice Department of abet­ting his theft of Malaysian gov­ern­ment funds.

They are:

  • Low Taek Szen — Low’s old­er broth­er and man­ag­ing direc­tor of Jynwel Capital, his Hong-Kong-based finan­cial vehi­cle. According to the U.S. Justice Department, he was the own­er of a BSI Bank account in Singapore that was used to move mil­lions of dollars.
  • Loo Ai Swan (a.k.a. Jasmine Ai Swan) — a Malaysian nation­al who served as 1MDB’s gen­er­al coun­sel in 2012 and 2013. She was iden­ti­fied by the U.S. Justice Department as the main point of con­tact between 1MDB and Goldman Sachs, which helped raise bil­lions of dol­lars for the Malaysian fund. (Goldman admit­ted last year that its Malaysian office had ignored red flags and paid bribes to offi­cials there).
  • Tan Kim Loong (aka Eric Tan) — report­ed­ly one of Low’s clos­est aides. According to the U.S. Justice Department, he con­trolled the Singapore bank account through which part of the stolen funds was laundered.

Loo Ai Swan and Tan Kim Loong were named as key fig­ures in the 2016 U.S. civ­il law­suit seek­ing to reclaim assets bought with stolen 1MDB mon­ey. In December 2018, a Malaysian court report­ed­ly issued war­rants for their arrest. Their where­abouts are unknown.

Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris told OCCRP that none of the three was grant­ed cit­i­zen­ship. He declined to com­ment on their prop­er­ty acqui­si­tions, cit­ing the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into Low’s citizenship.

Documents obtained by the Sarawak Report and shared with OCCRP show that Low tried to pur­chase the Cypriot Development Bank, a small lender that would lat­er be fined for vio­lat­ing anti-mon­ey laun­der­ing regulations.

Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, a mem­ber of Kuwait’s roy­al fam­i­ly who had become one of Low’s favorite fix­ers, embarked on nego­ti­a­tions to buy the bank on his behalf in June 2016, with FidesCorp as a broker.

In a let­ter, Sheikh Sabah man­dat­ed FidesCorp to nego­ti­ate “the acqui­si­tion of no less than 51% and up to 100% of the share cap­i­tal of Cyprus Development Bank for the max­i­mum bid amount of 80 mil­lion euros for 100% stake.” The doc­u­ment went on to say that this “be done in coor­di­na­tion with my advi­sors such as Mr Bashar Kiwan, Mr Low Taek Jho or Mr Hamad Al-Wazzan.”

According to peo­ple famil­iar with the events who spoke to OCCRP on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, when FidesCorp asked Sheikh Sabah to trans­fer the mon­ey for the pur­chase, he sud­den­ly disappeared.

The rea­sons for this lack of fol­low-through are unknown. Perhaps anoth­er solu­tion had been found: Later that sum­mer, Sheikh Sabah was report­ed­ly help­ing Low open off­shore accounts at his own small bank in the Comoro Islands. Cyprus Development Bank told OCCRP that it had nev­er received the pro­pos­al from Low and had no rela­tion­ship with him.More

By 2019, Low was one of the most famous fugi­tives in the world. But this didn’t pre­vent his Cypriot ser­vice providers from lend­ing a help­ing hand yet again.

That May, his girl­friend, Jesselynn Chuan Teik Ying, applied for a Cypriot pass­port, with FidesCorp act­ing as her agent.

Ying was not as lucky as Low. By the time she applied, her boyfriend’s cit­i­zen­ship appli­ca­tion had become pub­lic knowl­edge, spark­ing wide­spread anger and prompt­ing the gov­ern­ment to launch an inves­ti­ga­tion into how a man accused of steal­ing bil­lions had bought his way into Cyprus.

Her appli­ca­tion was with­drawn around the same time the scan­dal broke.

In October 2019, Low struck a 700-mil­lion-dol­lar deal with the U.S. Department of Justice. He agreed to for­feit assets includ­ing high-end real estate in the U.S. and the U.K., and return tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in invest­ments he had alleged­ly made with funds mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed from the 1MDB.

His where­abouts, as well as those of Low Taek Szen, Loo Ai Swan, Tan Kim Loong, and Jesselynn Chuan Teik Ying, remain unknown. The gov­ern­ment of Cyprus announced in October that it would begin the process of revok­ing Low’s pass­port, but at the moment his cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus is unclear.

OCCRP and Sarawak Report