Loo: I feared for my life

KUALA LUMPUR: After Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, swore to make her life “a living hell”, former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) general counsel Jasmine Loo was terrified about returning to the country and became a fugitive for five years.

In an explosive testimony at the High Court, Loo told her tale about how she was forced to live abroad since April 2018.

ALSO READ: ‘Aide to Jho Low wrote Saudi donation letter for Najib’

“I had no intention of going away. I was already in Bangkok at the time when the 14th General Election results came out,” she told former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s RM2.28bil corruption and money laundering trial here yesterday.

Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition lost the election in an unprecedented defeat during GE14.

Loo said she was then told by Low, a central figure in the multi-billion ringgit 1MDB scandal and a fugitive himself, to remain abroad and not return to Malaysia.

“He said to me that things would get very ugly for me and ‘you will be much worse’ if I return to Malaysia ... and that he would resolve things.

“I feared for what would happen to me. And I stayed (in Bangkok) for fear of reprisal,” the 50th prosecution witness said.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan if she (Loo) had received any threats, the star witness answered in the affirmative.

“Basically, Jho Low swore to turn my life into a living hell and to use his every resource and power to ensure that I meet a terrible end if I return to Malaysia,” she said.

Loo said she did not work while she was abroad but survived on whatever funds she had.

Occasionally, she said, Low would send someone to deliver funds of about US$2,500 to her for another year’s expenses.

The witness admitted that it was “deplorable” to have to rely on someone who had threatened her life but she said she had no choice because she had no other means.

“I needed (the funds) to survive, and yet I was waiting to find a safe way to return to Malaysia.

“In the meantime, I had to rely on him without him knowing that I was going to return to Malaysia. I feared for my life,” she added.

As she was in Bangkok, Loo said she was “acutely aware” of what had happened to 1MDB whistleblower Xavier Justo and did not want to become the “next Xavier Justo”.

(Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo, the whistleblower in the 1MDB scandal, was arrested in Thailand in 2015 and spent 547 days in a Thai jail.)

“My desire was always to return home to cooperate with the authorities but I felt cornered by circumstances. I felt I could not safely return,” she said.

Around 2019, Loo said she began discussions to return home and when the Covid-19 pandemic happened in 2020, everything came to a standstill.

“After that, I sought legal advice as to how to secure a safe passage home to Malaysia.

“In April 2021, my lawyers submitted a representation to the Attorney General’s Chambers offering my cooperation and seeking a safe passage to Malaysia. It is only until lately (July 2023) that I returned,” Loo said.

Najib, 70, is on trial for 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him the financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.

The trial continues before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah tomorrow.

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