An American law firm engaged by Malaysian businessman Jho Low offered to help get the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop 1MDB-linked lawsuits for a fee of U.S. $75 million, to be paid if it succeeded in 180 days, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The offer was contained in a draft agreement between a California law firm and representatives of Low, a target of DOJ lawsuits that allege he helped siphon off $4.5 billion from the state-owned Malaysian development fund between 2009 and 2015, the paper said.
It is not clear if the agreement was ever signed, according to the Journal, which said it was among “emails dated during the past year” from the accounts of lawyer Robin Rosenzweig of Colfax Law Office Inc. and her husband Elliott Broidy.
In another email, Broidy, a senior fundraiser for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, appears to offer talking points for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 2017 White House visit, the paper said. It was not clear if those talking points were used, it added.
The Journal quoted a spokesman for the pair confirming that Rosenzweig’s law firm was engaged “to provide strategic advice as part of a broader team to Mr. Low.”
“During the course of this engagement a number of strategies were discussed … But at no time did Mr. Broidy or Ms. Rosenzweig, or anyone acting on their behalf, discuss Mr. Low’s case with President Trump, any member of his staff, or anyone at the U.S. Department of Justice,” the Journal quoted the spokesman as saying in a statement.
Neither Colfax Law nor Broidy ever represented Malaysia or any of its officials in any capacity, the statement said, adding that the Wall Street Journal appeared to have obtained in a questionable manner “internal drafts of documents that were never used.”
In its article, the paper refers to “a cache of emails …. provided to the Journal” but does not clarify who provided them or why.
Jho Low (also known as Low Taek Jho) has denied any wrongdoing in the 1MDB affair. Earlier this week, at the request of American authorities, police seized his luxury yacht in Bali after investigations found it was purchased “with proceeds of corruption,” Indonesian officials said.
In a statement, a spokesman for Low complained about the seizure because U.S. justice officials had “still not taken any steps to prove that any impropriety has occurred.”
“It is therefore disappointing that, rather than reflecting on the deeply flawed and politically motivated allegations, the DOJ is continuing with its pattern of global over-reach – all based on entirely unsupported claims of wrongdoing,” the spokesman said.
Najib, who faces a re-election test later this year, has been linked by critics to the scandal surrounding the 1MDB affair, but cleared by Malaysia’s attorney general of any wrongdoing.
Najib founded the sovereign wealth fund in 2009. In 2013, he acknowledged receiving close to $681 million in his personal bank accounts but said it was a political donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family used to fund candidates in the 2013 election.
In announcing it would seize assets allegedly purchased during a “multi-year, multi-billion-dollar fraud scheme,” Department of Justice officials said the funds “financed the lavish lifestyles of the alleged co-conspirators at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people.”