Indonesia seizes luxury yacht linked to 1MDB probe

Indonesia on Wednesday seized a lux­u­ry yacht on the island of Bali sought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of a mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tion linked to Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

We have been inspect­ing the crew since yes­ter­day and now we are tak­ing action, since we have received approval from the court,” Agung Setya, direc­tor of eco­nom­ic and spe­cial crimes at Indonesia’s crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion bureau, told Metro TV. 

Television broad­cast images of Indonesian offi­cials talk­ing to the crew on board the yacht, the Equanimity, which was moored at Benoa Bay. 

There were 34 crew on board, said Setya, adding that Indonesian author­i­ties had worked with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation on the mon­ey laun­der­ing case, although he could not say how the inves­ti­ga­tion would proceed. 

We will see how this devel­ops… Whether we can do a joint inves­ti­ga­tion lat­er or whether we can hand it over lat­er, we are in the process of col­lect­ing and investigating.” 

1MDB is at the cen­ter of mon­ey-laun­der­ing probes in at least six coun­tries, includ­ing the United States, Switzerland and Singapore. 

A total of $4.5 bil­lion was mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed from 1MDB by high-lev­el offi­cials of the fund and their asso­ciates, accord­ing to civ­il law­suits filed by the DOJ in the past two years. 

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak set up 1MDB in 2009 and pre­vi­ous­ly served as chair­man of its advi­so­ry board. He and the fund have denied any wrongdoing. 

A seized a lux­u­ry yacht sought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of a mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tion is seen off the shore of Banoa, on the resort island of Bali, Indonesia February 28, 2018 in this pho­to tak­en by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Wira Suryantala/ via REUTERS

In August 2017, the DOJ asked for a stay on its civ­il law­suits seek­ing to seize more than $1.7 bil­lion in assets alleged­ly bought with stolen 1MDB funds because it was con­duct­ing a relat­ed crim­i­nal probe. 

Among the assets sought were a $250 mil­lion lux­u­ry yacht bought by Malaysian financier Jho Low, named as a key fig­ure in the U.S. lawsuits. 

The law­suits said Low used pro­ceeds divert­ed from 1MDB to pro­cure Equanimity, which it described as a 300-foot (91‑m) yacht reg­is­tered in the Cayman Islands. 

FILE PHOTO: A con­struc­tion work­er talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) bill­board at the Tun Razak Exchange devel­op­ment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

The ves­sel has an inte­ri­or clad in mar­ble and gold leaf, a spa and sauna, a 20-metre (66-ft) swim­ming pool on deck, a movie the­ater, a lift and a heli­pad, says a web­site on lux­u­ry char­ters,

Low’s where­abouts are unknown and his Hong Kong com­pa­ny has not respond­ed to requests for comment. 

In an emailed state­ment through his rep­re­sen­ta­tive in June last year, Low said the DOJ’s actions were an example“of glob­al over­reach in pur­suit of a deeply flawed case”. 

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

Some assets have been returned. Australian mod­el and actress Miranda Kerr hand­ed over mil­lions of dol­lars worth of jew­el­ry that U.S. author­i­ties say was giv­en to her by Low, includ­ing a jew­el­ry set gift­ed to her dur­ing a 2014 excur­sion on Equanimity. 

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio also returned to author­i­ties an Oscar once owned by actor Marlon Brando and oth­er items the United States says were fund­ed with 1MDB money. 

Additional report­ing by Fergus Jensen in JAKARTA and Rozanna Latiff and A.Ananthalakshmi in KUALA LUMPUR; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Nick Macfie and Clarence Fernandez

By Fransiska Nangoy

Indonesia seizes lux­u­ry yacht linked to 1MDB probe

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