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Luxury yacht at centre of graft probe handed to Malaysia

Luxury yacht at centre of graft probe handed to Malaysia

In August 2017, the DOJ asked for a stay on its civil lawsuits seeking to seize more than US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds because it was conducting a related criminal probe.

"We want to know where they obtained so much money to buy such an expensive yacht", he said.

Malaysian and worldwide authorities want to question Malaysian financier Jho Low, who the Justice Department alleges was a key figure in the theft and global laundering of US$4.5 billion from 1MDB.

A total of $4.5 billion was allegedly misappropriated by top-level 1MDB officials and their associates, according to civil lawsuits filed by the U.S. justice department.

The yacht - worth about $250 million - was handed over by Indonesian authorities who had seized it off the tourist island of Bali in February.

"I am happy that the Equanimity yacht has been delivered to Malaysia by the Indonesian authorities".

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has thanked Indonesian authorities for returning the yacht, saying it belongs to Malaysia because it was bought with money stolen from the 1MDB fund. Officials have said the yacht will be sold to the highest bidder to recover the stolen fund.

It is learnt that the yacht has been sighted off the coast of Pengerang, Johor, as it rounded Singapore to head towards Port Klang.

The ex-prime minister was arrested and charged with corruption last month.

The ex-defence minister who was a strong proponent of the King Salman Centre for International Peace says Malaysia's cooperation would have been meaningful.

Thomas said the yacht was seized by the Indonesian authorities in Bali on Feb 28 on an application of the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the United States.

However, Indonesian police seized the boat for the second time in July following a formal request for legal assistance from the United States.

Low, through a spokesman from his legal team, has described the handing over of the yacht to Malaysia as illegal and politically motivated.

"The action of the [Dr] Mahathir government in illegitimately taking this asset shows just how quickly the rule of law disappears in [Dr] Mahathir's regime", the statement read.

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