GEORGE TOWN: Low Taek Jho is innocent until proven guilty in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) corruption scandal, says a long-time family friend.
Citizens Awareness Chant Group (Chant) adviser Yan Lee said he has known the fugitive businessman, also known as Jho Low, for more than 20 years.
He added that Low was unwilling to return to Malaysia to stand trial over charges linked to the scandal as he did not expect to get a fair hearing.
“We finally get this Malaysia Baharu that we have been fighting for, and in this change, we must still maintain that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“Any other way, and our whole system, everything, breaks down,” he told reporters here Wednesday (June 12).
Lee also described Low as an “intelligent boy” and a “true Penangite” who had attended Chung Ling High School.
Commenting on the government seizing the Low’s Tanjung Bungah home, Lee questioned how the property could be connected to 1MDB when it was built long before 1MDB existed.
“This house was their family home for many years and their children grew up in this house.
“Obviously, if any funds are proven in an impartial court of law to have been misappropriated, they should be recovered, but how could this house be connected to 1MDB when it was built long before 1MDB existed?” he said.
Lee also urged the government to follow the rule of law and stop using the 1MDB issue as an “excuse”.
“Taking a family home – anyone’s family home – without any real reason is just not right,” he said.
Low, who continues to maintain his innocence, is believed to currently be in China.
In March, officers from the Bukit Aman’s Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Prevention division enforced a notice of seizure for the RM25mil family home.
It was reported that police are also investigating Low's father, Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng, as well as two others – Singaporean Shabnam Naraindas Daswani @ Natasha Mirpuri, 54, and Tan Kim Loong, 40.
Low’s mother, Goh Gaik Ewe, 66, is among those sought by police in the 1MDB probe.