Arul schools Rafidah on Equanimity episode

PETALING JAYA: 1MDB’s Arul Kanda Kandasamy has shot back at Rafidah Aziz after the former minister said Malaysia should have taken immediate steps to seize a luxury yacht named by US authorities as part of assets bought using money allegedly siphoned off from the state firm.

The 1MDB president said the question did not arise as there was nothing proven in court, other than allegations made by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

“It needs to go through the legal process, a court hearing. There needs to be a defence and there needs to be a decision by the court that, yes, this is actually what happened.

“Only then would we have the legal right to claim the assets as a result of the process,” Arul told FMT, in response to Rafidah who questioned him for saying that 1MDB critics did not apologise even after an Indonesian court on April 17 said the yacht had nothing to do with the state firm as this had yet to be proven.

The court also stopped Indonesian police from handing over the US$250 million (RM976 million) yacht to US authorities.

The DoJ had claimed the yacht, Equanimity, was bought by Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho with money stolen from 1MDB, which has been the subject of an investigation in the US.

Authorities in Bali impounded the yacht on Feb 28. Indonesian police later announced that it was handing over the yacht to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

A company, Equanimity Cayman Ltd, later filed a lawsuit in Indonesia to stop the seizure, saying the yacht was not linked to any criminal case in the country.

Arul, in an interview, had questioned critics who he said were quiet in the wake of the Indonesian court ruling, despite being vocal when news first broke about the Equanimity’s seizure in Bali.

“But do you see any apology from Rafidah Aziz for her statements?” Arul asked in an interview with Singapore’s Straits Times published today.

“Do you see any apology from Rais Yatim, or opposition politicians who are barking and braying about this issue? I don’t think so.”

Arul said even if the DoJ was right in its allegation over the yacht, 1MDB had paid a deposit to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (BVI), a wholly owned subsidiary of IPIC, the firm owned by the Abu Dhabi government.

“Now our claim under the law is against Aabar BVI. What they do with the money, is not in our knowledge and is not our responsibility,” he added.

“We pay to Aabar BVI, and whether they gave the money to Jho Low or whatever, and what they did with the money, we don’t know and it’s not our responsibility.

“It is unfortunate that Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz is making statements without understanding the legal intricacies of the matter.

“Having said that, with the utmost respect, I would humbly request that she attend one of the open sessions we are holding around the country on 1MDB matters.

“She is welcome to raise questions during the Q&A sessions and InshaAllah, we can all benefit from an open and mature exchange of views.”