2 February 2021
Citizenship broker Henley & Partners of London, helped Jho Low, who is accused of stealing billions from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, obtain a passport from Cyprus. Henley & Partners knew that Jho Low was a high risk client but worked with him through a Cypriot company. Henley earned a fee of euros 60,000. They also arranged a real estate deal for Low to purchase a luxury seaside villa for a fee of 650,000 euros. Several associates of Low also got Cypriot citizenship along with him, and also bought villas near his. The country’s controversial “golden passport” scheme under which Low and his associates got their citizenship in 2015 has now been discontinued after a damning investigation by Al Jazeera exposed local politicians offering to help a fictitious Chinese criminal get citizenship in Cyprus.
Henley, in November 2019, released a statement rejecting media reports that it had helped the Malaysian fugitive. But documents obtained by OCCRP indicate that Henley did, in fact, play a role in brokering Low’s Cypriot citizenship for a hefty commission for its services. Low signed a contract with Henley on May 7, 2015, according to a copy of the document obtained by OCCRP.
Cyprus is a famous tourist destination and a member of the European Union. With the Cypriot passport Low will now be able to travel to any one of the 27 nations in the block. He was under investigation by law enforcement in Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland. and U.S.A. It is not clear whether any of these jurisdiction can seek extradition of Low to their country. But he may not live in the luxury villa he owns in Cyprus but in other safe hideouts that his money can buy.