Jho Low: Yacht seizure part of DoJ’s global ‘overreach’

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PETALING JAYA: In the wake of the seizure of a luxury yacht in Bali today, Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), embroiled in the controversy surrounding state-owned sovereign fund 1MDB, has issued a statement through a spokesperson.

“The US Department of Justice (DoJ) 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,” the statement said, referring to the seizure of the yacht.

Low’s representatives had issued a similar statement last June, when in court filings in California, the DoJ filed a forfeiture suit to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets.

These assets included art works, jewellery, a yacht worth US$165 million, and film rights purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.

In August last year, DoJ officials had asked a judge in Los Angeles to put on hold its civil forfeiture lawsuits.

It said it was feared it would interfere with a criminal investigation into alleged money laundering involving the funds in question.

The statement by Jho Low said that he looked forward to the US “court being presented with the actual facts which demonstrate that the DoJ’s case is completely without foundation”.

Indonesian officials seized Low’s luxury yacht when it was moored at Benoa Bay in the popular tourist destination.

“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.

Reuters reported a television news broadcast showed Indonesian officials talking to the crew on board the yacht, the Equanimity.

According to Setya, there were 34 crew on board.

“Indonesian authorities had worked with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the money laundering case,” Setya was quoted as saying.

However, he did not elaborate on 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,” he said.

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