New information published by OCCRP suggests that Henley & Partners identified Jho Low as a high-risk client but worked with him anyway through a Cypriot company to get him a golden passport.
According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, documnets suggest well-known citizenship broker Henley & Partners helped Malaysian fugitive financier Jho Taek Low, also known as Jho Low, despite initial denials from the global firm.
Low, who stands accused of stealing billions from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, obtained a golden passport by fast track procedures through Cyprus’ disgraced Citizenship by Investment Programme.
According to OCCRP, Henley had repeatedly denied helping Low, with reports attributed to a company spokesperson saying the firm turned down Low as a client because he had failed to pass its internal due diligence checks.
But according The Guardian, invoices and other documents showed Henley had received payments in connection with services provided to the Malaysian financier.
Reporters obtained leaked emails that appeared to show the head of Henley’s Cypriot office corresponding directly with Low, detailing steps necessary to help him invest in a property
The Guardian said Henley had referred Low to a third agency while documents seen by its reporters showed the global firm had issued invoices to other Cypriot companies for work relating to Low’s application for a golden passport.
OCCRP alleges that Henley made €60,000 from a citizenship fee paid through an intermediary company on the island, and some €650,000 for helping arrange a real estate deal for Low to purchase a luxury seaside villa.
It was also alleged that reporters had obtained leaked emails that appeared to show the head of Henley’s Cypriot office corresponding directly with Low, detailing steps necessary to help him invest in a property as part of his golden passport application.
Low has denied any wrongdoing in the 1MDB affair, insisting he was just an intermediary and that the charges against him are politically motivated. Even though his whereabouts are unknown, he recently emerged in the public eye through a phone interview saying he was willing to make a deal with Malaysian prosecutors.
OCCRP also suggested that several associates of Low also applied for Cypriot citizenship around the same time, with publicly available documents suggesting they had bought villas near the financier’s property in Ayia Napa.
Henley certain firm did nothing wrong
A spokesperson for Henley & Partners reportedly said they were “entirely certain that the firm did nothing wrong.”
But the global company did concede that “it may be that some individual staff members involved at the time did not act as one team, or failed to adhere to the new procedures or did not exercise a sufficient level of judgment as to their interaction with real estate partners,” The Guardian reported.