Malaysian playboy financier in cross-hairs after poll upset

KUALA LUMPUR Baby-faced playboy Jho Low, a financier at the centre of Malaysia's 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) mega-scandal, may find his days of hobnobbing with celebrities and splurging on property and art numbered as the new government pledges to bring him to justice.

Suspected of being a key figure in one of the world's biggest alleged frauds along with ousted Malaysian leader Najib Razak and others, the chubby, bespectacled businessman, whose full name is Low Taek Jho, has become a lightning rod for public fury.

The Wall Street Journal reported that he was on the Thai holiday island of Phuket earlier this month awaiting the election results.

His current whereabouts are unclear.

The new government, headed by Mr Najib's ex-mentor, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has reopened probes into the sophisticated fraud and wants to haul Mr Low back to Malaysia.

Mr Abdul Razak Idris, a former senior officer from the anti-graft agency which led probes into the scandal until they were shut down under Mr Najib, said he believed Mr Low was the mastermind.

"He must be arrested and brought back to Malaysia so that we can bring back all the money parked abroad," he told AFP.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng on Friday instructed tax authorities to probe Mr Low and his family - many of whom are in Malaysia - over 1MDB.

Malaysian social media lit up at the prospect that a man who allegedly plundered state coffers was now being aggressively pursued.

"Jho Low is the key to all this 1MDB debacle," read one post on Facebook.

"Catching him is like catching the one ring that rules them all."