Jho Low Threatened Jasmine Loo Not To Return to Malaysia

1MDB trial’s star witness Jasmine Loo said Jho Low swore to make her life a living hell if she returned to Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR — Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) general counsel, Jasmine Loo today denied running away from Malaysian investigators in the 1MDB case, saying she had stayed abroad fearing for her safety as Low Taek Jho or Jho Low threatened to make her life a “living hell” if she ever came back.

Loo, the 50th prosecution witness in former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.27 billion, said she was not coerced into testifying in the 1MDB case after her return in July 2023 to Malaysia to cooperate with 1MDB investigators.

Jasmine Loo left Kuala Lumpur in April 2018, as instructed by Jho Low. Ultimately, when the Barisan Nasional government lost power in May of that year, she was instructed by Jho Low to remain abroad saying “things will get nasty.”

He said things would get ugly for me and it would be much worse if I were to return to Malaysia and that he would resolve things.

Jho Low Promised To Resolve Things

“He promised to resolve things, he would just look at the situation and advise, and he would basically ask me to give him more time before returning to the country. Because I was in Bangkok, I feared what would happen to me, and I feared reprisal and feared for my own safety in case I took any steps to the contrary.”

She spent five years abroad. But she ultimately returned as it was her desire to return to cooperate with the authorities.

In the meantime, she said there were obstacles for arranging her safe passage back to the country.

There were also discussions with the US Department Of Justice as early as 2020.

In 2021, her lawyers approached the Attorney-General Chambers for her safe passage.

She came back in July 2023.

In September of 2023, the Deputy IGP, Datuk Seri Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said that Jasmine Loo had signed an SD to return assets believed to have been from 1MDB.

“The value of the assets at the time of purchase was listed as RM93,266,291 in 2013, but the value could be much higher now.”

Video from The Star

As general counsel with 1MDB, she received renumeration and bonuses as part of the work package. When she took the stand on Tuesday, she disclosed that her renumeration was RM45,000 per month with the usual perks.

Golden Handshake

She also received bonuses and “ang pows” as well as an ex-gratia and a “golden handshake” when she left.

She said she did not know the funds she received from Jho Low were sourced from 1MDB. “If I had known, I would not have accepted the funds,” she said.

Loo said she did not work during the five years she was away from Malaysia, saying: “I lived on whatever funds I had with me and from time to time, maybe every eight to nine months, Jho Low will send someone or strangers to deliver funds to me, approximately about USD2,500 (RM11,960)”, adding that the USD2,500 that Low gave her were meant to last her for a year.

“Basically, Jho Low has sworn 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, replying to deputy public prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan.

Finally she plucked up her courage to return without Jho Low’s knowledge.

“(I know) it is deplorable to rely on someone who has sworn to make my life a living hell, but I felt I had no choice, as I had to do it for survival,” she said.

“I was basically fearing for my own life basically,” she said at another point.

Earlier, Loo was replying to Deepa’s question, where she was asked to explain allegations that she had ran away from obligations to cooperate with the authorities on 1MDB.

Loo was also asked about the time she was working as a colleague of the presiding Judge, Collin Lawrence Sequerah at a law firm Azrai & Co. This was before she resigned and joined 1MDB as legal counsel in 2008. It is expected that the defence will bring this matter up again in cross-examination later.

The 1MDB-Tanore Trial resumes on Friday. – NMH

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