KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian police on Tuesday said they had asked Macau authorities to detain Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, who they believe evaded arrest in Hong Kong and escaped via ferry to the nearby island.

Low, or Jho Low as he is known, has been identified by Malaysian and U.S. investigators as a key figure in the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

U.S. prosecutors have alleged $4.5 billion (3.4 billion pounds) was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed several lawsuits to claim about $1.7 billion (1.3 billion pounds) in assets believed to have been stolen from 1MDB, including a Picasso painting, jewellery and a $265 million (200.3 million pounds) yacht.

In an effort to detain Low, Malaysian police have also applied for an Interpol red notice to seek assistance from the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, China and Hong Kong, inspector-general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun was quoted as saying in a report by national news agency Bernama.

Fuzi said a request has also been made to Taiwan via diplomatic channels.

"Prior to this, we had deployed a team to Hong Kong to track down Jho Low after being tipped off by the authorities there. However, the fugitive had fled to Macau by sea when the team arrived," Fuzi said.

"Now, we have to wait for a response from Macau in order for us to track down Jho Low."

The Macau judiciary police said they had received the request from Malaysia, were verifying its content, "and will provide the information as requested by the country concerned as soon as possible."

Last week, Malaysia's immigration department said it cancelled Low's passport on June 15 at the request of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to help with investigations into the 1MDB scandal, Bernama said.

(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan and Emily Chow, additional reporting by Holly Chik in HONG KONG; Editing by Neil Fullick)

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