PETALING JAYA: Model Miranda Kerr, who reportedly handed over US$8.1 million (RM35 million) worth of jewellery to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) last month, had holidayed on Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho’s yacht after being gifted with the item in 2014, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported yesterday.
It said the Australian celebrity, who rose to stardom after posing for lingerie and women’s wear brand Victoria’s Secret, had enjoyed Low’s hospitality aboard his yacht off the Greek island of Corfu.
In a “Private Sydney” (PS) column by SMH writer Andrew Hornery, the daily reported that this also took place soon after Kerr had separated from actor Orlando Bloom to whom she had been married.
“PS can reveal that later that year, in August, Kerr and her Californian-based agent Kristal Fox, enjoyed Low’s hospitality aboard his A$250 million (RM810 million) superyacht Equanimity while it was bobbing off the idyllic coastline of Corfu,” it said.
Describing Kerr’s relationship with Low, who is better known as Jho Low, as a “romance”, the report said it had culminated in her handing over the jewels from her Los Angeles safe deposit box to US government agents.
The report cited the The Wall Street Journal as saying that among the jewellery was an 11.72 carat heart-shaped diamond pendant, a Valentine’s Day gift in 2014 from former “boyfriend” Low.
“Fresh from splitting with her husband Orlando Bloom, Kerr was spotted in Corfu at the time and even made the local press, but it was her host who is raising eyebrows three years later as the central figure in a corruption scandal that has engulfed Malaysia’s powerful elite,” the report said.
It said Kerr and Fox were taken by helicopter from one pleasure craft to another.
Fox even uploaded on social media a photo of herself with champagne in hand, departing from Equanimity following her stay aboard with Kerr, the report added.
Earlier last month, the Melbourne-based NGO Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia in Australia was reported to have called on Kerr to return the jewellery, saying that the DoJ had claimed that it had been purchased with funds allegedly siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The NGO said their message to Kerr did not imply any allegation of wrongdoing on her part, but just that she needed to “hand over all jewellery gifted to her”.
On June 15 this year, the DoJ filed a civil suit seeking to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets, including art works, jewellery, a yacht worth US$165 million, and film rights to the two comedies “Dumb and Dumber To” starring Jim Carrey and “Daddy’s Home” featuring Will Ferrell, all paid for with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.
The suit detailed how Low had gifted the diamond pendant to Kerr as a Valentine’s Day present. He had also given her a US$1.9 million matching diamond jewellery while the two were on board the Equanimity, it alleged.
The DoJ suit also said Low had purchased a 22-carat pink diamond necklace worth US$27.3 million for the “wife of Malaysian Official No. 1”, using the same source of funds.
In its earlier civil forfeiture suit filed in July last year, the DoJ had sought to recover more than US$1 billion (RM4.28 billion) in assets allegedly linked to 1MDB funds.
The assets included, but were not limited to, the Park Lane Hotel, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills, condominiums in New York, a private jet, expensive works of art, as well as the financing of Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.