PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today challenged those who say the luxurious yacht, Equanimity, belongs to them to furnish documents that it was not bought with money stolen from 1MDB.
“Please show proof. We want to know where they got so much money to buy such an expensive yacht. If they can prove that it was not purchased with stolen money, they deserve to get it back.”
Mahathir said investigations by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) had shown that the yacht was purchased with money stolen from 1MBD.
In a 2 minute 35 second video posted on his Twitter account, the prime minister said the yacht belonged to Malaysia as it was purchased with Malaysian money that was stolen by “certain quarters”.
He also thanked Indonesia for handing over the Equanimity, which purportedly belongs to controversial Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, saying the republic helped solve one of the country’s problems.
“I would like to thank Jokowi, the president of Indonesia, who cooperated with Malaysia.”
On Saturday, it was reported that Indonesia agreed to hand over to Malaysia the US$250 million luxury yacht linked to the 1MDB corruption scandal. Indonesian authorities had impounded the yacht in Bali earlier this year.
The Cayman Islands-flagged Equanimity was seized in February at the request of US authorities as part of a multi-billion dollar corruption investigation related to 1MDB launched by the DoJ.
An Indonesian court ruling in April declared that the yacht was wrongfully impounded and should be released to its owners.
Indonesian police seized the yacht again in July following a formal request for legal assistance from the United States.
The Star reported that the yacht is expected to leave Batam this evening and arrive in Port Klang tomorrow.
It quoted sources as saying that at least four Malaysian policemen would accompany the yacht and her crew to Malaysia.
1MDB, founded by former prime minister Najib Razak, is at the centre of money-laundering probes in at least six countries, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore. A total of US$4.5 billion was allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, according to civil lawsuits filed by the DOJ. Najib has denied any wrongdoing.
Jho Low is seen as a central figure in the scandal. According to the lawsuits, Low used proceeds diverted from 1MDB to procure Equanimity, a 91m-long yacht with an interior clad in marble and gold leaf, a spa and sauna, a 20-metre swimming pool on deck, a movie theatre, a lift and a helipad.