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Kuwait sentences alleged 1MDB scandal mastermind in absentia

March 30, 2023

DUBAI: The alleged mastermind behind Malaysia´s 1MDB scandal has been sentenced in absentia to 10 years´ hard labour in Kuwait for laundering over $1 billion, according to a judgement seen by AFP on Wednesday.

Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, was sentenced alongside a Kuwaiti sheikh and three other accomplices in the latest international case stemming from the multi-billion dollar scam.

The five men laundered “343.7 million Kuwaiti dinars ($1.1 billion) while knowing that these sums came from the plundering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign wealth fund”, said the criminal court of Kuwait.

Sheikh Sabah Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah, the son of a former Kuwaiti prime minister, and his business partner both received 10 years´ hard labour, while a Kuwaiti lawyer was jailed for seven years.

Low -- who maintains his innocence -- and Mohammad Kiwan, also a non-Kuwaiti, received their 10-year terms in absentia. The convicted men have the right to appeal. According to the court, Sheikh Sabah received the money for a fictitious construction scheme and it was then transferred to different accounts, including in tax havens, using complex financial transactions.

The 1MDB scandal saw billions of dollars in Malaysian public money used to bankroll a global spending spree in everything from art to yachts and real estate, and even funded the 2013 movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.