PETALING JAYA: The mysterious Eric Tan Kim Loong (pic) has been with Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, even before the latter made a presence in the scandal-riddled 1Malaysia Development Fund (1MDB).
Tan, who was the front for Jho Low in all his banking transactions involving billions of ringgit from 1MDB, is a family friend and business partner to Jho Low’s siblings.
He was a shareholder in several companies in Malaysia and Singa-pore doing business with relatives of Jho Low before he became Jho Low’s point person and most trusted aide.
“If Jho Low did not trust him, Tan would not have been the point person in handling billions from 1MDB money and channelling it to various sources, including to Jho Low.
“Tan is a smart operator and deliberately kept a low profile to the extent that he is almost unknown except to a few,” said a source.
Tan’s identity only emerged in public during the trial of a former BSI Bank of Singapore banker, Yeo Jia Wei, who was sentenced to 54 months jail for his role in the 1MDB fiasco.
Malaysians had a glimpse of Tan when Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) released a picture of him to help them in the 1MDB investigation.
Jho Low also used Tan to galvanise support for Barisan Nasional’s election campaign in its attempt to wrest back Penang in the 2013 General Election.
The source told The Star that Tan was one of the key figures to have helped Jho Low and his brother to “raise” money to finance charity work through 1Malaysia-Penang Welfare Club and organise free concerts in Penang.
“Tan was tasked to oversee and fund the club’s activities to run the BN election campaign, including paying for South Korean K-pop sensation Psy to perform.”
The source said Tan is believed to be hiding in Dubai now.
“Both of them were in the financial circle, looking after Middle East investment interests in Malaysia and Singapore prior to their involvement in 1MDB,” said the source.
The source said the two were friends as far back as 2005.
Tan, said the source, has been travelling and living in Hong Kong, Dubai and the United States. He was often seen with Jho Low over the years, carrying out his instructions to entertain VIP guests but remained in the background.
Tan represented Jho Low in Affinity International Equity Partners and Tanore Finance Corp, both British Virgin Islands-registered companies.
“He was not just an ordinary runner and trusted aide to Jho Low. Aside from taking instructions, he also provided legal opinions and advice to Jho Low.”
After Tan’s identity was revealed in Yeo’s case, the Singapore police wanted to question him but he had already fled the island state.
The source said Singapore police turned to their counterpart in Malaysia to look for Tan’s whereabouts.
“Malaysian police were given the details into the Singapore probe and other financial details involving 1MDB. Malaysian police, however, were unable to find Tan, nor was a warrant of arrest issued by Singapore police to track him down,” said the source.
According to the prosecution’s case against Yeo, the low-profile Tan was the beneficiary of US$11.9mil (RM47.6mil) transfer of funds to Affinity Equity International Partners Ltd (Affinity) from a Hong Kong company.
The source said Tan was also the earlier beneficial owner of Tanore Finance Corp, a BVI company.
Tanore Finance is the company that transferred US$681mil (RM2.72bil) to former prime minister’s Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s Ambank accounts in early 2013, just before the country’s general election.
The source said Tan had also ‘facilitated’ US$20mil (RM80mil) to a Swiss account of PetroSaudi International director Tarek Obaid using RBS Coutts Bank in Singapore on Sept 30, 2009.
Tan also was the architect behind an “Investment Management Agreement” that facilitated the transfer of US$700mil (RM2.8bil) into Jho Low’s Good Star Limited from PetroSaudi International.
Without the “agreement”, the Singapore authorities would not have allowed the transfer of the funds.
In Malaysia, Tan was involved in Enrich Pearl Sdn Bhd, Prinworth (M) Sdn Bhd and SA Ocean Marketing Sdn Bhd. These three companies were established between November 2006 and March 2007. Tan and a relative of Jho Low owned Prinworth jointly.
However, all the three companies were dissolved by mid-2016 before the 1MDB case was exposed.
In Singapore, Tan was involved in Clarity Group Pte Ltd, a company involved in selling electrical household appliances, furniture and lighting equipment.
Tan has 30% state in Clarity, which also has four other subsidiaries.
The source said Tan was appointed as director of the Singapore company in 2014 but it is unknown if he still holds the position and the status of his shares ownership in that group.
“Tan has been living abroad in the past four years after the scandal was exposed,” said the source.