The High Court today ruled that the federal government can proceed immediately with full forfeiture of RM48 million belonging to Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng, the elusive father of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho who is better known as Jho Low.
Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan made the order after no one turned up during today’s hearing to show cause as to why the properties should not be seized by the government.
“I am allowing the order sought by the prosecution as in the notice to seize the said assets for the government of Malaysia,” Zaini said.
The forfeiture action was filed to freeze Larry’s seven bank accounts containing a total of over RM48.9 million in order to forfeit the funds that were alleged to be linked to money-laundering activities.
Deputy public prosecutor Aaron Chelliah told the court that a notice for third parties claiming to have an interest in the monies held in Larry’s bank accounts to contest the forfeiture was gazetted on June 17.
The seven accounts are made up of current accounts and fixed deposits registered in RHB and Maybank branches in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
“As no third parties appeared today, the applicant (government) applied for the assets stated in the notice to be forfeited to the government as per the notice,” Chelliah said.
A court interpreter had also called out Larry’s name twice before the judge heard the application.
On March 29, the Malaysian government filed a forfeiture action against Larry, who is believed to be abroad and have since absconded.
The application for civil forfeiture was filed under Section 56 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which allows the government to forfeit a property without a prosecution.
“The prosecution considers him as an absconded person. As he has absconded, a warrant of arrest has been issued and he has yet to be caught,” Chelliah added.
Chelliah said various efforts have been made to track down the respondent including publicising the forfeiture suit.
The RM48,979,500.67 seized from Larry’s bank accounts include:
- RM20,784,952 in current account (RHB Bank Bhd)
- RM300,000 in fixed deposit account (RHB Bank Bhd)
- RM500,000 in fixed deposit account (RHB Bank Bhd)
- RM20 million in fixed deposit account (RHB Bank Bhd)
- RM6.61 million in fixed deposit account (Malayan Banking Berhad)
- RM462,618 in current account (Malayan Banking Berhad)
- RM318,021 in current account (Malayan Banking Berhad)
Both Low and his father were charged in absentia at the Putrajaya Sessions Court in August last year in relation to the misappropriation of 1MDB fund.
Low has accused the federal government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of harassment and “political persecution” against his family.
“Once again, the Mahathir regime has ignored the rule of law, and in a clear abuse of power is seeking to exploit the attorney general’s office and police force to attack opponents and do Mahathir regime’s personal bidding,” Low was quoted saying in a statement released by his spokesman in March this year.
Jho Low slams seizure of money in dad’s accounts
Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho has hit out at the authorities over the seizure of money in bank accounts said to be related to him, following the High Court’s order this morning.
A spokesman for Low, better known as Jho Low, said the seizure was “improper” and “the inevitable result of illegitimate proceedings brought by the Mahathir regime”.
In a statement issued through Jho Low’s legal team, he said “the outcome was preordained and politically motivated, blurring the lines between executive and judicial power”.
“This seizure, much like the Mahathir regime’s recent attempts to seize the Low family’s home of 20 years, further demonstrates the regime’s shameful strategy of targeted harassment and willingness to abandon proper procedures.
“The regime continues to favour the law of the jungle in pursuit of any inch of political gain,” he said, adding that the Pakatan Harapan government had not met its promises with respect to basic human rights or the rule of law.
Earlier today, the court in Kuala Lumpur allowed the government to confiscate about RM48 million deposited in bank accounts belonging to Jho Low’s father, Larry Low Hock Peng.
This came after deputy public prosecutor Aaron Chelliah informed the court that no third party had appeared to make a claim on the money.
He said Hock Peng’s lawyers could apply to set aside the order to forfeit the money.
“But they have to give valid grounds for why the government should not seize the money, or else the order of the court remains,” he told FMT.