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Jho Low

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Jho Low
Native name 刘特佐
Born Low Taek Jho
(1981-11-04) 4 November 1981 (age 36)
George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Residence Hong Kong
Nationality Malaysian
Alma mater Harrow School
Wharton Business School
Occupation Businessman
Net worth US$1.75 bn (2014)
Relatives Low Meng Tak (grandfather)
Website www.jho-low.com (Inactive)

Low Taek Jho (Chinese: 刘特佐; pinyin: Liú Tèzuǒ; Sidney Lau: Lau4 Dak1 Joh3, born 4 November 1981), often called Jho Low, is a Malaysian financier and the beneficiary of numerous discretionary trust assets said by the US Government to originate from payments out of the Malaysian 1MDB fund.[1][2][3][4][5] He gained notoriety as a "tabloid party boy"[6] in New York City. Low has been associated with numerous high value transactions, including acquisitions of businesses, luxury real estate and art, as well as philanthropy.[6]

Early life

Low grew up in George Town, on Penang Island. His grandfather Low Meng Tak was a businessman born in Guangdong in China.[7] Meng Tak had interests in iron-ore mining, liquor distilleries, and real estate in China and Thailand in the 1960s and 1970s.[7] Jho Low's father "Larry" Low Hock Peng was an executive for an investment holding company called MWE Holdings in the 1990s.[6]

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.[8] In London, he developed a "close relationship" with Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.[9][10] 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.[6]

Low can speak Malay, English, Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew.[8]

Business dealings and wealth

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 suggested that his family had considerable independent means.[6] While a 2015 New York Times article suggested that his family was of "somewhat deflated affluence,"[6] a 2014 Wall Street Journal profile had called him a "scion" and estimated his family wealth at US$1.75 billion.[7]

Early activities

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."[6] Low is the principal steward of Jynwel Capital, along with older brother Szen Low. He has cultivated relationships with some of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, including Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Co and the Kuwait Investment Authority.[11] 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.[12] Low was the architect for Jynwel Capital's bid to buy Reebok from Adidas AG in October 2014. The bid was for US$2.2 billion.[13]

Low advises Aziz in the management of Red Granite Pictures, a Hollywood production company responsible for films such as Wolf of Wall Street and Dumb and Dumber To.[14] 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 funds.[15]

Low runs a Hong Kong-based finance company called Jynwel Capital.[16]

1MDB allegations

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.[6][16]

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.[17] 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.[17]

In October 2016, Interpol published a red notice at Singapore's request to locate Jho Low in an investigation related to 1MDB fund flows within its jurisdiction.[18]

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.

After the Malaysian general election in 2018, Malaysia renewed investigations into the 1MDB scandal and issued arrest warrants against Low and former SRC International director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.[19][20]

Politics

Consistent with his personal connections to the Razak family, Low supported the Prime Minister during the 2013 elections. For instance, he organised a free pro-government concert in his home state of Penang.[16] The concert featured American musicians Busta Rhymes and Ludacris and was criticised as unfair electioneering by the local, opposition government.[16]

Social life

Low dated socialite Paris Hilton, Taiwanese singer Elva Hsiao and supermodel Miranda Kerr.[21] Low gained early notoriety by spending extravagant sums in New York and Las Vegas parties,[22] as well as a luxurious but ultimately failed MYR 5.5 million marriage proposal to Hsiao.[23][24]

Philanthropy

Low's philanthropy began after a reported cancer scare in 2012.[12] 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.[12]

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.[12][25] The funds were to begin a pilot program using IBM's Watson question answering computer system as a clinical decision support system in cancer.[26][27] The plan was to acquire, analyse and organise vast amounts of data to help physicians determine the most promising treatments for cancer patients.[28]

Low, on behalf of the Jynwel Foundation, along with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Dr. Thomas Kaplan, and Hemendra Kothariis, is a member of Panthera's Global Alliance, established to save the world's 38 wild cat species and their environments.[29]

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.[30][31]

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.[32][33]

References

  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "Fund Lawyer Who Worked With Goldman Holds 1MDB Clues, U.S. Says". Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  4. ^ "Malaysia 1MDB Scandal: Najib Razak's Aide Jho Low Made Millions From State-Run Fund, Report Says". 19 April 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Story, Louise and Stephanie Saul. "Jho Low, Well Connected in Malaysia, Has an Appetite for New York". The New York Times 8 February 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Farrell, Maureen (21 October 2014). "Scion Moves into Spotlight on M&A Stage". The Wall Street Journal. 
  8. ^ a b "A millionaire before graduating". The Star. 29 July 2010. 
  9. ^ Story, Louise and Stephanie Saul. "Jho Low, Well Connected in Malaysia, Has an Appetite for New York". The New York Times 8 February 2015. "In a statement provided by a spokesman, Mr. Low...said he 'is a friend of Mr. Riza Aziz and his family.'"
  10. ^ 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"
  11. ^ Super Admin (1 November 2014). "JHO LOW BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT". Malaysia Today. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ "Jynwel Capital, led by Jho Low, and Abu Dhabi Funds seek to buy Reebok from Adidas". The Rakyat Post. 20 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Story, Louise and Stephanie Saul. "Jho Low, Well Connected in Malaysia, Has an Appetite for New York". The New York Times 8 February 2015. "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.'"
  15. ^ Farrel, Greg (15 June 2017). "1MDB Loot Included Picasso, 'Dumb and Dumber To,' U.S. Says". Bloomberg LP. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c d Wright, Tom (9 July 2015). "Malaysian Financier Jho Low Tied to 1MDB Inquiry". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Story, Louise. "Malaysia’s Leader, Najib Razak, Faces U.S. Corruption Inquiry". The New York Times 22 September 2015.
  18. ^ "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. 
  19. ^ hermes (2018-06-08). "Arrest warrant issued for Jho Low: Report". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-06-08. 
  20. ^ "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. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ Moylan, Brian. "Jho Low: Manhattan's Mysterious Big-Spending Party Boy Archived 26 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine." Gawker. 10 November 2009.
  23. ^ "Malaysia Billionaire Jho Low's RM5.5 Million Failed Marriage Proposal To Elva Hsiao - The Coverage". thecoverage.my. Retrieved 2018-06-07. 
  24. ^ UK</a>, <a target='_blank' href='http://uk.businessinsider.com/author/camilla-hodgson/?IR=T'>Camilla Hodgson</a>, <a target='_blank' href='http://uk.businessinsider.com/?IR=T'>Business Insider (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. 
  25. ^ Victor Scott. "$50 million plus world's smartest computer". University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  26. ^ "MD Anderson Taps IBM Watson to Power 'Moon Shots' Mission Aimed at Ending Cancer, Starting with Leukemia" (Press release). IBM. 
  27. ^ "IBM's Watson Now Tackles Clinical Trials at MD Anderson Cancer Center". Forbes. 
  28. ^ Rob High and Jho Low (20 October 2014). "Expert Cancer Care May Soon Be Everywhere, Thanks to Watson". Scientific American. 
  29. ^ Ashlea Ebeling (2 June 2014). "Can Big Name Philanthropists Save The Big Cats?". Forbes. 
  30. ^ Heyman, Marshall. "Music to Get in the Mood for Giving". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  31. ^ "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. 
  32. ^ 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. 
  33. ^ 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.