Malaysian police have filed criminal charges against fugivite businessperson Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, and his father "in absentia" over the alleged misappropriation of money from 1MDB, reported The Edge today.
The charges for money laundering were said to have been brought against Low and his father Larry Low Hock Peng by the Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) and the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) at the Sessions Court in Putrajaya this morning.
Arrest warrants for both men were also sought, which will now enable the government to seek their extradition.
A legal source was quoted as describing the filing as a significant move, saying: "With the registration of the charges, the next step is to seek an extradition."
The report added that Jho Low and his family are believed to be in hiding in China or Abu Dhabi.
Eight charges against Jho Low
Court documents sighted by The Edge state that Jho Low has been slapped with eight charges under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 - three of which were for receiving money, and the remaining five for transferring the funds.
The elder Low faces one charge of transferring US$56 million (RM230 mil) to his son.
The sums involved in the said transactions are approximately US$261 mil (over RM1 billion) for receipt of money, and US$196 mil (about RM805 mil) for transferring of the cash - all of which were done through separate accounts at the BSI Bank in Singapore between Dec 2013 and June 2014.
The Edge said that most of the cash involved was used to purchase the US$250 million (RM1 billion) Equanimity superyacht, which is now under the custody of Malaysian authorities, after it was handed over by their Indonesian counterpart earlier this month.
The report noted that these are the first criminal charges to be filed against Jho Low anywhere in the world.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has previously filed a series of civil suits which sought to recover assets bought with money allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.
Earlier today, Jho Low in a statement said that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's "stunt" of initiating an expedited sale of the Equanimity has backfired, as the government is now willing to let go of the vessel at a discounted price due to its high maintenance cost.
The bid to sell off the yacht, which is believed to be owned by Jho Low through a series of intermediaries, will be heard at the Kuala Lumpur Admiralty Court this evening.