Malaysian ex-PM Najib to be charged with money laundering

09 August, 2018, 12:04 | Author: Carlos George
  • Lim Guan Eng speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur

Prime Minister Mahathir thanked Indonesia for the return of the luxury yacht in a Facebook post Monday.

STATE investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd, under a new management, has laid claim to the Equanimity, said lawyer Sitpah Selvaratnam, in a departure from its former refusal to be linked to the yacht.

He said Malaysian officials took custody of Equanimity on the Indonesian island of Batam near Singapore.

Najib said the government should now remain focused on finding ways to repay the huge debt still owed to International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC), instead of trying to sell the yacht off to the highest bidder.

The US$250-million (RM1.02 billion) yacht docked at the Boustead Cruise Centre Terminal here at 12.40pm, under heavy escort by marine police.

Among the assets sought is Equanimity, cited as a 92-metre yacht bought by Malaysian financier Low, named as a key figure in the U.S. lawsuits.

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Najib has been asked to appear at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office at 5pm (4pm in Thailand), a report on the website of The Star daily said. The petition questioned the lawfulness of a warrant issued by the Indonesian police to turn over the vessel to Malaysia. He and the fund have denied any wrongdoing.

The decision added more tensions that have already increased in the country since May 9 elections that saw the Barisan Nasional coalition, led by ex-prime minister Najib Razak, defeated for the first time since independence from Britain in 1957.

The Cayman Islands-flagged Equanimity was seized by Indonesian authorities on February 28 in Bali at the request of United States authorities as part of a multi-billion dollar corruption investigation launched by the DoJ related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters the government planned to take inventory of items one the yacht and open the vessel for public viewing, before eventually selling it "at the highest price".

The yacht is among assets that included real estate, jewellery and a Picasso painting that the DOJ says were bought with funds stolen from 1MDB.

Malaysia is trying to recover up to $1.7 billion in assets, including the yacht, that the DoJ has alleged were bought with stolen 1MDB funds.

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