Ties to tycoon
BARBADOS HAS BEEN MENTIONED in criminal proceedings involving Malaysian tycoon fugitive Low Taek Jho (aka Jho Low), who has been implicated by the United States Department of Justice in the alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Jho Low, 37, who is facing charges in the US, Malaysia and Singapore in what is being described as one of the world’s largest money laundering scandals in history, at one time considered buying Amicorp Bank Barbados to “park his money”.
He travelled here on several occasions in his private jet and yacht, staying at high-end hotels, and meeting with executive officers associated with the bank.
All of this was revealed last year during the criminal trial in Singapore of Jho Low’s consultant and adviser Yeo Jiawei, who was subsequently sentenced to 54 months in jail for money laundering and cheating charges.
Prosecutors produced email and Whatsapp messages linking Jho Low and Jiawei to the Barbados deal which never materialised.
In one email, Jho Low was cited as saying he wanted the bank to be acquired with a company owned by two high-level United Arab Emirates associates to serve as a “parking spot” for his funds, as well as those of his friends and family.
Jose Renato Carvalho Pinto, an Amicorp relationship manager, testified that Yeo’s relationship with Jho Low was so close, that he travelled on his private jet, and accompanied him on his luxury yacht Equanimity on business trips to the Caribbean, including Barbados where he stayed at the luxurious Sandy Lane Hotel.
The banker also testified that
Yeo had asked his bank to set up trusts and open bank accounts for several entities for both Jho Low and his family members.
The court was shown a photograph of Jho Low, Aabar Investments PJS chairman Mohamed Al Husseiny, Jho Low’s associate
Eric Tan, and Amicorp Group CEO Toine Knipping, among others, meeting in Barbados.
Jho Low’s connections to the Caribbean extend to neighbouring St Kitts, where he is said to be a citizen owning several properties. At one point there was speculation that he might have been hiding out on that island.
The charges filed by Malaysian police alleged that he received
$260.8 million between December 2013, and June, 2014, and transferred $188.2 million between January
2014, and June, 2014. The Malaysia government seized the $250 million yacht Equanimity earlier this year.
Singapore has separately charged him with money laundering and receiving stolen property.
The US Justice Department alleged Jho Low helped siphon off at least $4.5 billion from 1MDB between 2009 and 2015, charging that he and conspirators from Asia and the Middle East allegedly used the proceeds to buy luxury homes in the US, frequent Las Vegas nightclubs and fund Hollywood movies, among other things.
The US criminal indictment against him was unsealed on November 1.
The Barbados Nation emailed Juan Velutini, CEO, Amicorp Bank and Trust Ltd, and Careen Leyshon, managing director, Amicorp Barbados, enquiring about this information involving Jho Low and the bank.
Attorney at law Erica Griffith submitted the following response: “Our client has instructed us to inform you that it is unable to comply with your request as set out in your said email, by reason of its obligations of confidentiality under the the International Financial Services Act.
“We however take this opportunity to affirm that our client is in good standing under the laws of Barbados. We therefore urge that you refrain from publishing any material that may injure the reputation of the bank, as it is prepared to pursue all available legal remedies to protect its good name and reputation.”
MALAYSIAN tycoon fugitive Low Taek Jho (aka Jho Low). Malaysia’s government seized his $250 million yacht Equnamity earlier this year.