FBI seize 1MDB-linked yacht 

A luxury yacht has been seized in Indonesia as part of an FBI probe into alleged multibillion-dollar corruption at Malaysia’s state-run 1MDB investment fund.

Indonesia’s police and FBI officers were seen on the US$250-million vessel which was docked in Bali with 34 crew members.

It is owned by Malaysian financier Jho Low, a former pupil of Harrow near London, who is friends with celebrities like Leonardo Di Caprio.

Low’s spokesperson criticised the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) “global overreach”.

His representative was quoted saying by the New Straits Times: “The US Department of Justice has stayed asset forfeiture proceedings in this case and has still not taken any steps to prove that any impropriety has occurred.

“It is therefore disappointing that, rather than reflecting on the deeply flawed and politically motivated allegations, the DOJ is continuing with its pattern of global overreach: all based on entirely unsupported claims of wrongdoing.”

Low was apparently looking forward to the “actual facts” being presented in court, and proving the case was “completely without foundation”.

The yacht is part of US$540 million in assets allegedly embezzled from the government fund that the DOJ is seeking to recover.

Australian model Miranda Kerr has previously handed over millions of dollars worth of jewellery that US investigators said was given to her by Low, including a jewellery set handed to her during a 2014 excursion on the seized yacht, Equanimity (pictured).

Washington says more than US$4.5 billion was stolen from the fund, set up in 2009 by embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak, who served as chairman of its advisory board.

Nearly US$1 billion has reportedly passed through his personal bank accounts.

Other assets allegedly bought by Low with stolen 1MDB funds include a private jet, hotel and real estate in New York and a US$107-million stake in EMI Music Publishing.

Najib and 1MDB both deny any wrongdoing.

1MDB faces money-laundering probes in at least six countries, including the US, Switzerland and Singapore.

Low is accused of using 1MDB funds to purchase the 91-metre Equanimity, which is registered in the Cayman Islands.

The marble and gold leaf decorated vessel has a spa and sauna, 20-metre swimming pool on deck, cinema, lift and helipad, according to yachtcharterfleet.com.

Low’s whereabouts are unknown.

Agung Setya of the Indonesian police told MetroTV that the authorities began working with the US on the yacht a week ago.

“We have legal confirmation that this asset is the result of a crime,” the financial crime buster said.

“Our law stipulates that anyone who hides an asset resulting from the proceeds of crime is committing a money-laundering crime.”


The Equanimity. Picture credit: Flickr