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Jho Low, Rosmah’s son and luxury homes in US

Mon 2015-Feb-9 @ MYT 19:28:32 pm
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Jho Low, the party boy cum high-flying financier cum global investor from Penang, topped the front-page of The New York Times today, in an exclusve five-part investigation into mysterious buyers of luxury real estate in New York.

The series, appropriately named “Towers of Secrecy”, digs into J.Low’s deals, his links to Rosman Mansor’s son Riza Aziz, his well-heeled Middle Eastern contacts, and the deals involving the troubled government investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad, brainchild of Najib Razak.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is quoted in the story, saying “We are very concerned. We want people of integrity up there” referring to 1MDB, patronage and power.

Sivarasa Rasiah of PKR is quoted questioning the money being spent: “That’s a lot of money,” Sivarasa Rasiah, an opposition lawmaker, said of Mr. Aziz’s spending. He added, “Every U.S. report on him talks about family wealth. Family who?”

Daim Zainuddin is quoted questioning how the money in 1MDB is being spent.

“I don’t understand why the government carries on with 1MDB,” Daim Zainuddin, a former finance minister, said in an interview. “To me, it’s quite frightening because you don’t know what they’re doing,” he said, adding, “Why must government money be parked?”

Front page lead in today's NYTThe NYT said:

Mr. Low has played an important role in bringing Middle Eastern money into numerous deals involving the Malaysian government, and he helped set up, and has continued to advise, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund that the prime minister oversees.

Now, that relationship has become part of an uproar gathering around Mr. Najib and threatening his already shaky hold on power. In Parliament, in political cartoons and in social media, Mr. Najib’s critics tend to argue that he is too close to Mr. Low.

Rosmah’s handbags

Much of the concern, even in Mr. Najib’s own long-ruling party, involves questions about the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. More broadly, though, the prime minister’s trappings of wealth and the widely broadcast tales of his wife’s outsize spending — the diamond jewelry, the collection of extravagantly costly Hermès Birkin bags — have become a focus of Malaysians’ rising unease with their government’s institutionalized culture of patronage and graft.

“We are very concerned,” Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a member of Malaysian royalty and an independent-minded elder statesman of Mr. Najib’s party, said in an interview in Kuala Lumpur last summer. “We want people of integrity to be up there.”

Increasingly, the glare turns to Mr. Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, and so to Mr. Aziz’s friendship with Mr. Low. With Mr. Low’s help, Mr. Aziz runs a Hollywood company that produced the films “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Dumb and Dumber To.” He has spent tens of millions more on the homes in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, transactions that involved Mr. Low, The Times found.

» Full report in the NYT

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