Although suspicious transactions from Jho Taek Low’s local bank accounts were flagged as early as October 2015, and despite Interpol issuing an arrest warrant for the Malaysian businessman-cum-fugitive a year later, the government never initiated a process to revoke his passport.
Daily Politis on Tuesday revealed more information raising a host of questions as to why the Malaysian’s passport deal has flown under the radar until now.
On September 11, 2015 the cabinet approved an interior ministry proposal to grant Low – who was not wanted by any authorities at the time – a Cypriot passport under the citizenship-by-investment scheme.
The passport was issued a few days later.
On September 22, Low issued a cheque for €300,000 to the Archbishopric, and a day later a cheque for €650,000 as a sales commission to a property developer relating to Low’s purchase of a villa in Ayia Napa.
Bank of Cyprus, tracking the traffic in Low’s accounts, notified Mokas, the police’s anti-money laundering unit. The lender submitted a report to Mokas in early October 2015.
According to Politis, sometime over the following days, the bank closed Low’s two accounts, which he had opened in June of the same year.
In turn, Mokas conducted an investigation, the findings of which were relayed to the interior ministry in early 2016.
It appears the ministry took no action concerning Low’s passport.
In October 2016, Interpol published a red notice at Singapore’s request to locate and arrest Low in an investigation related to 1MDB fund flows within its jurisdiction.
The international arrest warrant was likewise disseminated to Cypriot police.
Still the government here did nothing.
Earlier this week, president Nicos Anastasiades said Low’s passport “should” be revoked, adding however that authorities first need to follow due process.
Regarding the apparent involvement of the Church as mediator/facilitator, Politis found that Low’s €300,000 cheque to the benefit of the Archbishopric was issued “on the same day” as his passport was granted.
Archbishop Chrysostomos, who took a keen interest in Low’s case and met with the Malaysian businessman in mid-September 2015, has sought to shift blame away from the Church.
It has emerged that on September 10, 2015, the archbishop sent a letter to the then-interior minister, urging him to expedite Low’s passport application.
On Monday the top cleric told the state broadcaster that it was a developer who had bought church land in Ayia Napa, who had asked the church to promote Low’s citizenship bid.
“He told us he was building mansions on the land he bought from us [the church].”
But according to Politis, Chrysostomos’ narrative is implausible because, besides the villa in Ayia Napa, it turns out the Malaysian made no other real estate investments in Cyprus.
The archbishop also said Low had donated money to the theological school, when he visited Cyprus.
But as Politis clarified, the €300,000 cheque is made out to the Archbishopric, not to the theological school.