Arul Kanda slams critics’ silence after Equanimity freed

1MDB’s Arul Kanda criticised anti-government voices after the yacht Equanimity was freed. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: Government critics and opposition politicians are under fire for not apologising for “malicious statements” made about Indonesia’s seizure of a luxury yacht linked to businessman Low Taek Jho, which was later released.

The yacht was alleged to have been bought by Low, better known as Jho Low, with funds siphoned off from government investment company 1MDB.

1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy, in an interview with Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, said many comments had been made against 1MDB and the government when news first broke about the Equanimity being impounded in Bali.

A judge later ruled that the owner had not been convicted of any crime and the police were wrong to seize the yacht in cooperation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“But do you see any apology from Rafidah Aziz for her statements?” Arul asked. “Do you see any apology from Rais Yatim, or opposition politicians who are barking and braying about this issue? I don’t think so.”

Former ministers Rafidah Aziz and Rais Yatim, whom Arul said had “an axe to grind”, had taken the government and several ministers to task for stating that the government was not involved in matters relating to the Equanimity.

Arul said 1MDB had to take proactive steps and share the correct information with the public to counter the opposition’s “misleading communication”.

However, he added that he was not out to defend Prime Minister Najib Razak, the government or Low.

“My job as the CEO is to position and explain the company’s point of view. At the end of the day, it is up to the people to make their own decision on the matter.”

Last month, Rafidah asked why the government had been unable to trace the yacht, which had reportedly been sailing in Southeast Asian waters. She had also posted photographs to show that she had been able to locate its whereabouts by herself.

Rais meanwhile had taken government ministers to task for stating that the government had no involvement in matters relating to the Equanimity.

The yacht is among assets linked to Low which the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is seeking to seize. Other assets include a private jet, a hotel and real estate in New York.

The DoJ said in its civil suits that some US$4.5 billion had been stolen from 1MDB through fraud and money laundering, with US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought with the stolen funds.

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