Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Malaysia's former PM Najib to be charged with money laundering

Malaysia's former PM Najib to be charged with money laundering

Indonesia handed over to Malaysia on Monday a $250 million luxury yacht, impounded earlier this year as part of an global hunt for assets purchased with billions of dollars allegedly siphoned off from state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

The Cayman Islands-registered Equanimity, believed to be worth some $250 million and belonged to a fugitive Malaysian financier with links to Najib, was seized in February off the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.

The superyacht "Equanimity", widely reported to be owned by Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, was properly seized under Malaysian laws, said Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.

An aide said it will be in Malaysian territory within 48 hours.

The Justice Department, one of several foreign agencies investigating the alleged looting of the 1MDB fund by associates of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, had listed the yacht among the assets it could seize and sell to recover stolen funds.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was ousted in a shock election defeat in May, set up 1MDB in 2009 and previously served as chairman of its advisory board.

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The Prime Minister's Office, in confirming yesterday afternoon that the vessel had been handed over to Malaysia, said "the handing-over process between the [two] authorities was in Batam". The country's anti-corruption authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Jho Low.

Lawyers representing the wanted financier, also known as Jho Low, filed a notice yesterday to a California district court to direct the United States government to reveal its knowledge of the yacht's transfer.

On Saturday, the Indonesian government agreed to hand over the yacht to Malaysia. We want to know where they can get so much money to buy such an expensive yacht.

Mahathir said anyone who wants to claim ownership of the yacht must show proof that the vessel was not bought with stolen funds.

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.

The charges are related to the RM42mil that allegedly went from SRC International into Najib's personal bank accounts.

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