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1MDB trial: Jasmine Loo says was in Thailand, Cambodia, China, Myanmar since 2018 after warned by Jho Low to not spoil his plans

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in-house lawyer Jasmine Loo today said she had moved about from Thailand to Cambodia, China and Myanmar from 2018 onwards until she returned to Malaysia in July 2023, as fugitive Low Taek Jho had warned her to stay away from Malaysia to avoid upsetting his “plans”.

The 50-year-old Loo said this while testifying as the 50th prosecution witness in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over the misappropriation of 1MDB’s RM2.27 billion at the High Court here, and stressed that she was under threat from Low — better known as Jho Low.

Loo said she was already outside of Malaysia at the time of the 14th general election (GE14) in 2018, and that she was in Thailand at that time for a few months until possibly September 2018 and said “after that I was moved to Cambodia”.

Asked by Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on who had moved her from Thailand to Cambodia, Loo replied: “Jho Low warned me that basically that he, basically, he asked me not to spoil his plans, in the sense he was negotiating with the new government and he asked me to move in the interim to another place.

“Because Thailand, something was happening in Thailand, which he did not explain. I felt that if I didn’t follow his instructions, there might be consequences,” she said today in the witness stand.

Following GE14 in May 2018, the coalition Pakatan Harapan took over as the new federal government from the coalition Barisan Nasional.

Apart from these two countries, Loo said she also went to Myanmar and went once to China, adding that she was in Hainan, China before she was moved to Shenzhen.

Loo clarified however that the last time she met Low was in China in 2017 at the latter’s request, where Low had wanted to ask her if a project involving a shopping mall could be done.

Asked by Shafee how she had survived financially during the years she disappeared or absconded from Malaysia, Loo said she had “nominal” funds to survive on, noting: “Jho would arrange for some monies like a few thousand US dollars for every nine to 10 months just to pay for my necessities.”

At one point, Shafee suggested that Loo could have chosen to return to Malaysia, but she replied: “I do not see how I could have returned to Malaysia safely.”

When Shafee asked why she was unable to return to Malaysia if she had not done anything wrong, Loo said: “I believe at that time, because of Jho’s warning, he would take drastic actions if we did not follow his instructions. I was worried of again, in the case of Justo, for example, something was very clear in my mind, that could have possibly happened to me if I was taken in detention at any point.”

Shafee said that former PetroSaudi International employee-turned-1MDB whistleblower Xavier Andre Justo’s case was different as it involved leaking of documents and alleged extortion of money and asked if she was doing or about to do something similar, but Loo said: “No, I was about to return home to testify, to give testimony or subject myself to investigations.”

Loo confirmed that she believed she was “under threat” from Low from 2018, and said Low communicated with her directly.

As for what threat Low had used, Loo said: “It was both a mixture, he warned me there would be reprisals if I returned to Malaysia and at the same time, he promised he would solve things as he was negotiating with the government, don’t spoil his plans.

“If I did, there would be consequences, there would be action. I didn’t know what they were, but I felt the threat strongly that he could do anything to me, because I was not in Malaysia at that time,” she said.

She agreed that Low is capable of exercising threats and violence, adding: “Or at least I felt he could have taken those measures” and also added that she felt threatened “to a certain extent”.

When asked why would she feel threatened if she had not done anything wrong, Loo said: “It is not about whether I had done anything wrong or not, it was just about returning home safely to Malaysia. Didn’t want to risk my life returning to Malaysia even if I didn’t do anything wrong, again in the sense of Justo, he was asked to falsely confess. So I did not want those kind of things happening to me.”

Shafee: Right, did you feel you have done anything wrong?

Loo: No. No, I don’t think so.

Loo acknowledged she had been reported to have allegedly received money from Low in the past, and said the funds she had received including money that he had arranged or sent to her from time to time based on investment agreements she had with entities.

Apart from receiving money she said she was managing on trust for other individuals, Loo said she had received from Low US$5 million in ex gratia payment for her contribution at her former employer UBG Berhad (which she left in 2011 before joining 1MDB) and that this sum was sent to her bank account at Credit Suisse, Singapore.

Regarding the US$5 million, Loo said this was the only time she had received such a sum and said the funds went into her account sometime in 2011 and 2012 but said she would need to check.

At one point, trial judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah reminded Shafee that he needs to draw a line between putting questions as part of Najib's defence and remembering that Loo is not the one on trial.

While deputy public prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan questioned the line of Shafee's questioning as Loo is present in court as witness and not as someone on trial, Shafee insisted that his questions were relevant to challenge Loo's credibility.

When Shafee asked if Loo had lodged any police report to say that she was under threat or approached any Malaysian embassy abroad such as in Thailand and Cambodia, Loo said she was overseas then, adding: "As I said before, I felt myself under threat and I was being monitored closely, any move I made to the contrary, I did not want to endanger myself making moves contrary to Jho Low's instructions which was to stay put."

Loo confirmed she has yet to lodge any report about Low upon her arrival in Kuala Lumpur last year, and said she will take advice from her lawyers regarding this.

Asked by Shafee if she now knows with the benefit of hindsight that a lot of funds were moved from 1MDB and those in cahoots with him, Loo said she believed this to be true after she read the full report by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) on 1MDB.

Loo said she did not know whether the DoJ report's allegations against Low were true, but said the allegations in the same report against here "are not true".

Asked if she had lodged a report against the DoJ or sued them for defamation, Loo instead said she had lawyers in the US who were prepared to defend the DoJ's lawsuits or forfeiture action against her and that she has since settled these cases.

"Everything was surrendered to the government, to the DoJ who will then return the assets to Malaysia," she said.

While confirming that Low did not have an official role in 1MDB, Loo confirmed she did take instructions from him while she was in 1MDB and that there were individuals in 1MDB's management who similarly took instructions from him.

Loo said she did receive presents from Low in the past, including a Richard Mille watch which she has surrendered to the government and a Hermes handbag.

Loo did not deny having previously participated in Low's many activities such as going for holidays or going to Las Vegas for gambling, saying: "I'm not denying it, but I thought he was a friend, he was a close friend and he would invite common friends as well for these events."

Loo confirmed she had attended World Cup matches in 2014 in a trip fully sponsored by Low including for tickets and hotel stay, and that she had attended the semi-final football game between Brazil and Germany and possibly the quarter finals.

Loo said she recalled former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman and former 1MDB chief investment officer Vincent Koh as having been present for the trip, and said Low had brought along his family and friends and some stars.

"If I recall, Leonardo DiCaprio, maybe David Beckham, I can't remember, and some models. I think one is Adriana Lima," she said, adding that she could not remember precisely if anybody else were present.

Loo agreed that Low had did his very best to ensure that she remains on good ties with him, noting: "He is a very soft-spoken person so he doesn't really use harsh words until I think 2015, 2016 when he began to seem a little bit more irritated, principally 2016." She agreed that this was after the 1MDB and Jho Low matter became more scandalous.

Loo confirmed she had participated in a skiing holiday with others that were sponsored by Low at the Whistler ski resort in Canada, and that others who were present were actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and singer Alicia Keys and her brother.

Loo confirmed and identified individuals in multiple photographs on Instagram that were shown to her, including one which featured Low and DiCaprio and other friends in the same photograph, and one where she was in a skiing outfit with Alicia and her brother.

As for a photograph which Shafee said featured actor Jamie Foxx, DJ Chuckie, Low and Low's father Larry Low in a private yacht in Sydney, Australia, Loo said this was a trip which Low described as a "family and friends trip" and that they would move on from Sydney to Las Vegas in the US and then to Whistler in Canada for a double New Year celebration.

She confirmed there was no one else from 1MDB except her at this trip.

After she left 1MDB in 2013, Loo also said she was paid RM5,000 per month by 1MDB as an allowance to be available on call and to do ad hoc work, including helping in 2014 with a US$975 million loan from Deutsche Bank.

Najib's 1MDB trial is scheduled to resume on March 14.