The Luxury Looting Web: How Malaysia’s Ex-PM and UAE Royalty Plundered Billions

The Luxury Looting Web: How Malaysia’s Ex-PM and UAE Royalty Plundered Billions

The  new documentary titled “Man on the Run” explores the massive 1MDB scandal, where billions vanished from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund. At the center was Malaysian businessman Jho Low, the fugitive accused of masterminding the historic fraud. But Low had help from the highest ranks of government and society.

The film features interviews about Low’s unsavory connections. Imprisoned former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is asked about Low’s whereabouts but answers evasively. Yet Razak’s caginess can’t mask his deep complicity with Low in pillaging public coffers.

One of the key figures in the 1MDB scandal is UAE‘s current Ambassador to Washington, Sheikh Yousef Otaiba, who has long been cited, in US court by the former Goldman Sachs Investment Banker Tim Leissner, as business partner of Jho Low and a recipient of kickbacks from 1MDB fraudster.

Even more shocking are allegations of UAE royal involvement. According to audio recordings unveiled by Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission back in January 2020, Razak conspired with UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to fabricate evidence concealing the scam. Specifically, Razak asks the Crown Prince to create a fake loan agreement disguising illicit 1MDB funds used by Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz to finance “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The Crown Prince readily agrees to falsify the records, showing the brazen corruption of these elite leaders: “Mister Prime Minister, believe me, I want to finish this; this is bad.” 

Collaboration between Razak and the UAE leadership is alarming, but not surprising. As a 2018 report revealed, Dubai has become a “global hub for money laundering”, with sanctioned individuals and criminals buying luxury real estate freely there. But the recordings provide stark evidence of the UAE’s rulers actively enabling graft instead of combating it.

This saga spotlights how crooked officials and shady billionaires prop each other up globally. From Malaysian leaders to Gulf royalty and Hollywood celebrities, the web of corruption spans worldwide. But regular citizens pay the price when public money morphs into a slush fund for the ultra-wealthy and connected. As Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Chief Latheefa Koya said, the recordings reveal “abuse of power, criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice, compromising national security, fabrication of false evidence through foreign aides.”

The recent $1.8 billion settlement agreed by two Abu Dhabi state funds effectively constitutes an admission of guilt and complicity by the UAE. As reported by FT, the settlement was reached to end legal action brought by Malaysia over the 1MDB scandal. The deal comes after years of embarrassing allegations for Abu Dhabi. Crucially, it signals a turning point where the UAE authorities acknowledge their role in enabling the historic fraud.

UAE, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, owner of Manchester City ,Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and brother of Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and son-in-law of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, was named a culprit by the former  managing director of IPIC, Khadem al-Qubaisi, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

 Al-Qubaisi blamed Mansour and UAE authorities for using him as a scapegoat. “I did this deal, but I did it on behalf of the government of Abu Dhabi. Now, they are putting everything on my back,” he said. Mansour was the chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, which oversees all criminal cases in the emirate.

By exposing far-flung webs of corruption, perhaps the world can start dismantling them and pursue justice. The 1MDB case might just serve as a reference case for other countries as well.

The main figures in the saga are now facing justice to varying degrees. Najib Razak was convicted and is serving a 12-year prison sentence in Malaysia. Jho Low remains a fugitive. Riza Aziz was charged but reached a settlement in Malaysia. Meanwhile, Prince Mohammed bin Zayed has become the President of the UAE and continues his authoritarian rule over the UAE.

Written by Eagle

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