Chinese Officials Refute Reports that 1MDB Financier has Fled to Mainland China

According to reports in the South China Morning Post, 1MDB-linked billionaire, Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, left the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macau for the Chinese mainland on July 11.  On July 12, this was denied by Chinese officials contacted by the Post, with other sources suggesting that he may have instead travelled to St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, where he is also a citizen.  Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for Jho Low in connection with his ties to the allegedly corrupt 1MDB, but any connection he may have had in this capacity to Chinese entities interacting with 1MDB is unknown.

The trustworthiness of the Chinese government response, however, may be called into question, judging from the response of Chinese media authorities to the case.  Whereas Google News has links to dozens of articles related to the case, algorithms controlling the ordering of search results for Jho Low’s Chinese name on Baidu News, a Chinese equivalent to Google News, place 2018 articles disproportionately low.  The most recent article – from July 6 – mentions Jho Low only in passing reference.  They disappear entirely when the results are sorted by time of publication, indicating the possibility that Chinese censors are trying to divert attention from this story.

This is not the first time that Chinese government orders have obstructed attempts to bring Jho Low to justice.  In 2016, Hong Kong – possibly under instructions from Beijing — rejected a request from Singaporean authorities for assistance in arresting him.