Jho Low

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Jho Low
Native name
Low Taek Jho

(1981-11-04) November 4, 1981 (age 37)[1]
ResidenceHong Kong
Alma materHarrow School
Wharton Business School
Parent(s)Larry Low Hock Peng (father)[2]
Goh Gaik Ewe (mother)[3]
RelativesLow Meng Tak (grandfather)

Low Taek Jho (Chinese: 刘特佐; pinyin: Liú Tèzuǒ; Sidney Lau: Lau4 Dak1 Joh3, born 4 November 1981),[1] often called Jho Low, is a fugitive[4] sought by the Malaysian authorities in connection with the 1MDB scandal. He is the beneficiary of numerous discretionary trust assets said by the US Government to originate from payments out of the Malaysian 1MDB fund.[5][6][7][8][9] He gained notoriety as a "tabloid party boy"[10] in New York City. Jho Low has been associated with numerous high value transactions, including acquisitions of businesses, luxury real estate and art, as well as philanthropy.[10] He is believed to be at large in China.[11]

Early life[edit]

Low grew up in George Town, on Penang Island. His grandfather Low Meng Tak was a businessman born in Guangdong in China.[12] Meng Tak had interests in iron-ore mining and liquor distilleries in Thailand in the 1960s and 1970s, and in real estate in Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong.[12] Jho Low's father Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng founded investment holding company MWE Holdings.[13][14]

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.[13] He also took this opportunity to rub shoulders with students from powerful families.[15]In London, he developed a "close relationship" with Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.[16][17] 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 and began managing stolen money for his friends and family.[10][18]

Low can speak Malay, English, Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew.[13]

Business dealings and wealth[edit]

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 lied that his family had considerable independent means.[10][19] While a 2015 New York Times article suggested that his family was of "somewhat deflated affluence,"[10] a 2014 Wall Street Journal profile had called him a "scion."


Low's first major deal was the Kuwait Finance House's 2006 purchase for US$87 million of a luxury high-rise apartment building in Kuala Lumpur.[12] 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."[10] By 2010, the family had consolidated its fortune into Jynwel Capital, of which Low and older brother Szen Low were the principal stewards.[12]

As steward of Jynwel, Low cultivated relationships with some of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, including Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Co and the Kuwait Investment Authority.[20] 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.[21] Low was the architect for Jynwel Capital's unsuccessful US$2.2 billion bid to buy Reebok from Adidas AG in October 2014.[22]

Low advises Aziz in the management of Red Granite Pictures, a Hollywood production company responsible for films including Wolf of Wall Street and Dumb and Dumber To.[23] 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 stolen funds.[24]

1MDB allegations[edit]

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.[10][25]

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.[26] 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.[26]

In October 2016, Interpol published a red notice at Singapore's request to locate and arrest Low in an investigation related to 1MDB fund flows within its jurisdiction.[27]

After the Malaysian general election in 2018, Malaysia renewed investigations into the 1MDB scandal and issued arrest warrants against Low.[28][29][30]

According to South China Morning Post 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,[31] even though Malaysian authorities looking to arrest him in connection with the 1MDB scandal.[32] He has was alleged to have been in discussions with the Malaysian government on a potential deal, but the Malaysian government and him did not come to a deal.[33]

Low allegedly purchased a US$325,000 white Ferrari as a wedding gift for Kim Kardashian in 2011.[34][35] The Department of Justice (DoJ) was reported to have sought restitution from other famous celebrities who had received gifts from Low, among them Leonardo DiCaprio, who has since returned Picasso and Basquiat paintings; and Miranda Kerr who returned diamond jewellery with a market value of US$8 million.[35][36][37]

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. On 1 November 2018, Low and two ex-Goldman Sachs bankers were indicted by the US Department of Justice with money laundering in connection with the alleged 1MDB misappropriation.[38][39]


Consistent with his personal connections to the Razak family, Low supported and funded the Prime Minister with 1MDB cash during the 2013 elections.[40] He organised a free pro-government concert in his home state of Penang,[25] featuring American musicians Busta Rhymes and Ludacris which was criticised as unfair electioneering by the local, opposition government.[25][10]

Social life[edit]

Low has been romantically linked to socialite Paris Hilton, Taiwanese singer Elva Hsiao and model Miranda Kerr.[41] Low gained early notoriety by spending extravagant sums on New York and Las Vegas parties,[42] as well as a luxurious MYR 5.5 million boyfriend proposal to Hsiao.[43][44][45]


Low's philanthropy began after a reported cancer scare in 2012.[21] He then founded Jynwel Foundation to honour the Low family tradition, started by his grandfather, of financing schools, hospitals and community centres in his hometown. Low's grandfather died from cancer in 2013.[21]

In 2013, Jynwel Foundation committed US$50 million over 12 years to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the hospital where Jho Low spent six months recovering from his infection and cancer scare.[21][46] The funds were to begin a pilot program using IBM's Watson question answering computer system as a clinical decision support system in cancer.[47][48] The plan was to acquire, analyse and organise vast amounts of data to help physicians determine the most promising treatments for cancer patients.[49]

Low, on behalf of the Jynwel Foundation, underwrote Alicia Keys' Keep A Child Alive's annual flagship fundraiser event in New York City from 2012 to 2015. He donated $250,000 to the organisation in 2013 to expand its HIV programs in sub-Saharan Africa.[50][51]

Low committed US$25 million over 15 years to the humanitarian news service IRIN on behalf of the Jynwel Foundation in November 2014, a step intended to fill a funding gap after the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs withdrew support in 2014.[52][53]

It is highly suspected that the donations given by Jho Low were actually stolen cash from 1MDB fund.[54]


  1. ^ a b thecoverage (2018-11-03). "4th November 2018 Jho Low 37th Birthday - Will This Year Be His Worst Birthday Celebration Ever?". The Coverage. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  2. ^ "Wanted: Jho Low's parents, two others, in police 1MDB probe". www.thestar.com.my.
  3. ^ "Wanted: Jho Low's parents, two others, in police 1MDB probe". www.thestar.com.my.
  4. ^ "Moles in govt tipping off Jho Low, claims Daim". Archived from the original on 2018-10-09.
  5. ^ hermesauto (21 July 2016). "Singapore seizes $240m in assets in 1MDB probe, half from flamboyant Malaysian financier Jho Low and family". Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  6. ^ Karp, Hannah; Grant, Peter (20 July 2016). "In Properties Targeted in 1MDB Case, a High-End House Tour". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Fund Lawyer Who Worked With Goldman Holds 1MDB Clues, U.S. Says". Retrieved 28 July 2016.
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  9. ^ Grant, Peter (26 July 2016). "1MDB Probe May Be Good News for Park Lane Hotel Investors". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Story, Louise; Saul, Stephanie (8 February 2015). "Jho Low, Well Connected in Malaysia, Has an Appetite for New York]". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A.; Stevenson, Alexandra (2018-12-09). "A Yacht, a Monet, a See-Through Piano: The U.S. Collects on a Fugitive's Shopping Spree". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  12. ^ a b c d Farrell, Maureen (21 October 2014). "Scion Moves into Spotlight on M&A Stage". The Wall Street Journal.
  13. ^ a b c "A millionaire before graduating". The Star. 29 July 2010.
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  17. ^ Story, Louise. "Malaysia’s Leader, Najib Razak, Faces U.S. Corruption Inquiry". The New York Times 22 September 2015. "The US Government civil cases are focused on properties in the United States that were purchased in recent years by companies that belong to the prime minister's stepson as well as other real estate connected to a close family friend"
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  21. ^ a b c d "Jho Low, Jynwel Capital move into global deal spotlight supported by wealthy Abu Dhabi Funds". The Rakyat Post. 22 October 2014.
  22. ^ "Jynwel Capital, led by Jho Low, and Abu Dhabi Funds seek to buy Reebok from Adidas". The Rakyat Post. 20 October 2014.
  23. ^ Story, Louise; Saul, Stephanie (8 February 2015). "Jho Low, Well Connected in Malaysia, Has an Appetite for New York". The New York Times. With Mr. Low's help, Mr. Aziz runs a Hollywood company that produced the films 'The Wolf of Wall Street' and 'Dumb and Dumber To.'
  24. ^ Farrel, Greg (15 June 2017). "1MDB Loot Included Picasso, 'Dumb and Dumber To,' U.S. Says". Bloomberg LP. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  25. ^ a b c Wright, Tom (9 July 2015). "Malaysian Financier Jho Low Tied to 1MDB Inquiry". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  26. ^ a b Story, Louise. "Malaysia’s Leader, Najib Razak, Faces U.S. Corruption Inquiry". The New York Times 22 September 2015.
  27. ^ "Singapore says Interpol had red notice out on Jho Low in 2016, Malaysia was aware - Nation | The Star Online". www.thestar.com.my. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  28. ^ hermes (2018-06-08). "Arrest warrant issued for Jho Low: Report". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  29. ^ "PM: We know where Jho Low is, we just can't get to him - Nation | The Star Online". www.thestar.com.my. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  30. ^ Zolkepli, Farik. "Wanted: Jho Low's parents, two others, in police 1MDB probe - Nation | The Star Online". www.thestar.com.my. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  31. ^ "Fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low still involved in affairs of his Hong Kong companies". SCMP. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Report: Jho Low on the run, but still involved in HK companies". Free Malaysia Today. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  33. ^ "1MDB scandal explained: a tale of Malaysia's missing billions". The Guardian. 25 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  34. ^ "Jho Low reportedly gave Kim K. and Kris Humphries a $325K Ferrari". Page Six. 2018-09-12. Retrieved 2018-09-14.
  35. ^ a b "Jho Low bought US$325,000 Ferrari for Kim Kardashian, says report". Free Malaysia Today. 2018-09-13. Retrieved 2018-09-14.
  36. ^ "Jho Low allegedly bought white Ferrari for Kim Kardashian - Nation | The Star Online". www.thestar.com.my. Retrieved 2018-09-14.
  37. ^ hermesauto (2018-09-14). "Malaysian businessman Jho Low allegedly bought white Ferrari for reality TV show star Kim Kardashian". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-09-14.
  38. ^ "1MDB: Ex-Goldman bankers and Jho Low face US charges". BBC News. 1 November 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  39. ^ "What has Jho Low been charged with? US documents reveal extent of '1MDB fraud'". Channel NewsAsia. 2018-11-02. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  40. ^ "Billion Dollar Whale". Billion Dollar Whale. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  41. ^ Baer, Justin; Viswanatha, Aruna; Hope, Bradley (15 June 2017). "U.S.'s Latest Target in 1MDB Probe: Leo DiCaprio's Art, Miranda Kerr's Jewelry". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  42. ^ Moylan, Brian. "Jho Low: Manhattan's Mysterious Big-Spending Party Boy Archived 26 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine 26 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. 26 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. " Gawker. 10 November 2009.
  43. ^ "Malaysia Billionaire Jho Low's RM5.5 Million Failed Marriage Proposal To Elva Hsiao - The Coverage". thecoverage.my. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  44. ^ Hodgson, Camilla (2017-08-17). "Pop stars, models, and Hollywood: The crazy life of the man accused of siphoning $4.5 billion from Malaysia's state fund". Business Insider Malaysia. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  45. ^ "WSJ report: Jho Low, wife fled Macau after May 9 poll result". Malaysiakini. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  46. ^ Victor Scott. "$50 million plus world's smartest computer". University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  47. ^ "MD Anderson Taps IBM Watson to Power 'Moon Shots' Mission Aimed at Ending Cancer, Starting with Leukemia" (Press release). IBM.
  48. ^ "IBM's Watson Now Tackles Clinical Trials at MD Anderson Cancer Center". Forbes.
  49. ^ Rob High and Jho Low (20 October 2014). "Expert Cancer Care May Soon Be Everywhere, Thanks to Watson". Scientific American.
  50. ^ Heyman, Marshall. "Music to Get in the Mood for Giving". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  51. ^ "Keep A Child Alive's 10th Annual Black Ball raises $4 million for HIV treatment | The Music Universe". The Music Universe. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  52. ^ Cumming-bruce, Nick (30 November 2014). "Ailing U.N. News Service Gets $25 Million". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  53. ^ Hatcher, Jessica (20 November 2014). "Irin humanitarian news service saved after private donor fills UN void". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  54. ^ hermesauto (2017-07-04). "Jho Low gave S$276m to charities: New York Post". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2019-03-06.