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Tom Wright
THREAD: When Malaysian PM Najib was in trouble in 2016, caught up in the 1MDB scandal, he turned to China. He needed help ending global probes into 1MDB, and stopping investigations by the WSJ, and Beijing stood ready to assist. /1
The secret discussions show how China uses its clout to bolster its position overseas, especially for its “Belt and Road” infrastructure project. Malaysia’s new leader has since put the deal on hold.
The Wall Street Journal The Wall Street Journal @WSJ
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/2 The negotiations with China were led by Jho Low, the alleged mastermind of the 1MDB scam, according to minutes of meetings and Malaysian officials. Low offered lucrative Malaysian rail and pipeline deals to Chinese state firms. In return, Beijing would help Najib.
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/3 China engaged at a high level. Here was an opportunity to deepen its One Belt, One Road infrastructure program, building massive projects in Malaysia. But the deals were not meant to be commercial, according to the minutes of meetings between Malaysian and Chinese officials.
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/4 In the meetings, participants openly discussed how the Malaysian infrastructure projects — a railroad and gas pipelines — would be overvalued, creating excess cash to pay 1MDB debt, bribes and more. But the deals would be sold as commercial ventures. See here:
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/5 China also would get berthing rights for its navy at two Malaysian ports, according to Malaysian officials aware of the talks. Malaysia has long been wary of China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, so this was a significant concession.
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/6 In return, Jho Low and other Malaysian officials had their list of demands. They wanted Beijing to exert its influence globally to get the U.S. to drop an investigation into the 1MDB matter, one of the world’s largest corruption scandals, which had ensnared PM Najib and Low.
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/7 The Malaysian officials also wanted help bugging the homes and offices of WSJ reporters in Hong Kong after the Journal in 2015 had reported about PM Najib receiving $681 million in stolen 1MDB cash. Beijing appeared willing to help. See here:
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/8 Najib lost power in an election in May 2018 and was subsequently arrested. Malaysia’s new government and the U.S. have charged Low with money laundering and other offenses. Malaysian authorities say Low is living in China under the protection of authorities there.
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/9 Low didn’t just exert power in China. For years, he used money from the 1MDB fund to become a major player in Hollywood. He befriended DiCaprio, dated Miranda Kerr, and became a major investor. We tell the story in our new book, Billion Dollar Whale.
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Tom Wright 7 Jan 19
Replying to @TomWrightAsia
/10 Malaysia’s new government has put the China-linked infrastructure projects on hold. The U.S., Malaysia and other nations continue to investigate the 1MDB scam, which also involves Goldman Sachs. Malaysia wants China to send Low back home to stand trial. END
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Tom Clarke 7 Jan 19
Beijing still happily assisting ... they know exactly where Jho Low is hiding out.🤑🤫☹
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Arvind Vijh 🇨🇦 7 Jan 19
Catch him if you can
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