SINGAPORE (Sept 3): Larry Low Hock Peng, wanted by Malaysian authorities on a charge of ­money-laundering, has ceased to be a substantial shareholder in Singapore-listed Frencken Group, a company of which he was the founding chairman. Larry is the father of Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, who is alleged to have masterminded the scheme to siphon billions of dollars from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

According to a stock exchange filing on Aug 29, the senior Low’s interest in the company has fallen from 8.14% to 4.74%, or just under 20 million shares. The reduction in his stake came about after he disposed of his shares in an entity called Meng Tak Corp — named after his father — which is one of the entities he used to hold shares in Frencken, a mechanical and electronics equipment manufacturer.

The changes in the Frencken stake took effect on Aug 24 — the same day he was slapped with one criminal charge of money-laundering by Malaysian authorities. His son faces eight charges in connection with 1MDB. Arrest warrants for both father and son have been issued by Malaysian authorities.

In July this year, Singapore authorities said they had issued an arrest warrant for Jho Low in May 2016 on charges of money-laundering and dishonestly receiving stolen property. Singapore does not have a warrant out for the senior Low.

According to documents released by Singapore prosecutors in January 2017, Larry used to hold an account with BSI Bank. On Nov 12, 2013, the account was used to receive US$248.5 million from an account owned by an entity called Dragon Dynasty, whose beneficial owner is Jho Low. On the same day, a sum of US$235.5 million was transferred from Larry’s account to another BSI account held by Jho Low.

The Low family has other links to 1MDB as well. Ong Gim Huat, who used to be 1MDB’s non-executive director, was Larry’s business partner for more than three decades. According to Malaysian company filings, Ong and Larry are both directors and shareholders of a Penang developer called Wonder Bay.

Larry quit as chairman of Frencken’s board on Aug 10, 2016, citing “medical reasons”. He first assumed that post in 2000. His departure from Frencken took place just one month after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil complaint alleging the misuse of 1MDB-related funds by a long list of individuals, including a certain Malaysian Official No 1 — known to be former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. Jho Low also figured prominently in the 136-page document. His brother, Taek Szen, was named as well.

Around the same time, Singapore was starting to prosecute individuals for their roles in connection with 1MDB. Former BSI Bank wealth planner Yeo Jiawei was the first to be charged. Yeo, who is now serving a 30-month jail sentence, told the court during his three-week-long trial in November 2016 that he worked for Jho Low.

Besides charges at home, Jho Low is facing investigations by US authorities. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, he has hired Chris Christie, who runs his own law firm, to represent him in the civil forfeiture case brought against his US properties. Christie was the former New Jersey governor who made a bid for the 2016 US Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Jho Low is also said to have hired another law firm, Kasowitz Benson & Torres, which is used by US President Donald Trump, to represent him in connection with DOJ probes on individuals who have helped raise funds for 1MDB and who later siphoned the money. Jho Low has also reportedly engaged another law firm, King & Spalding’s, to advise him on the DOJ investigations.

According to a senior official from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), investigators in Kuala Lumpur have completed 60% of their probe into 1MDB, after reopening the case three months ago.

MACC deputy chief commissioner Azam Baki told reporters on Aug 30 the commission has compiled almost all local evidence, and is now collecting information from outside the country with cooperation from the US and Singapore. “Give us time to get statements from overseas,” he said. “We’re left with about 40%, which is all the evidence we need from the foreign countries. It involves many countries.”

This story appears in The Edge Singapore (Issue 846, week of Sept 3) which is available now. Subscribe here