Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Luxury yacht at centre of graft probe handed to Malaysia

Malaysia Indonesia returns yacht seized in graft probe $250 mil superyacht at centre of 1MDB scandal sails to Malaysia
Ellis Copeland | 07 August, 2018, 18:41

Indonesia has returned to Malaysia a luxury yacht linked to the multi-billion dollar 1MDB financial scandal, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday, a move seen as bolstering a corruption probe involving ex-leader Najib Razak.

In a Facebook video, Mahathir thanked Indonesia's government and President Joko Widodo for returning the US$250 million (AUD$337 m) yacht, Equanimity, which was seized by Indonesia off Bali in February in cooperation with the US FBI.

"On the vessel's expected arrival to Malaysia, it said: "[The] safest we can say is within 48 hours".

Mahathir said, "We believe that this yacht belongs to the Malaysian government because it was bought with Malaysia's money that was stolen".

The announcement came after Najib, who suffered a shock defeat in May elections, was summoned for a new round of questioning by the anti-corruption agency.

Funds were allegedly transferred from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), into Najib's personal account.

Those assets include the 300-foot (90-metre) super-yacht owned by Low Taek Jho - popularly known as Jho Low - a close Najib associate and former unofficial adviser to 1MDB.

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On Saturday, the Indonesian government agreed to hand over the yacht to Malaysia.

Najib set up 1MDB when he took power in 2009, but it accumulated billions in debts. His Malaysian passport has been revoked and an arrest warrant issued. We want to know where they can get so much money to buy such an expensive yacht.

Low, who has so far evaded investigators, issued a statement through his USA lawyer on Monday protesting the handover of the yacht as an "illegal act" for ignoring court proceedings in the United States.

In a filing to a California court, the justice department proposed "that all proceedings in this action be suspended in order to give the government and any interested claimant the opportunity to inquire of Malaysia through formal channels what its intentions are with respect to the defendant yacht".

He said Indonesia, Malaysia and the US recently activated the mutual legal assistance treaties among themselves.

Among Malaysia's agencies involved in the operation were the Royal Malaysia Police, the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney-General's Chambers, he said.

"The charges are related to the SRC International case", it said in a statement.

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