Indonesia returning yacht at center of Malaysia graft probe

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2018, file photo, a luxury yacht named "Equanimity" is seen in the Benoa harbor in Bali, Indonesia. Indonesia is returning the luxury yacht allegedly bought with funds stolen from a Malaysian state investment company after a monthslong legal battle, a police official said Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ambros Boli Berani, File)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia is returning a luxury yacht allegedly bought with funds stolen from a Malaysian state investment company after a monthslong legal battle, a police official said Sunday,

The $250 million Equanimity is on its way to a border location where it will be transferred to Malaysia, said Daniel Silitonga, deputy director of economic crimes at Indonesia's national police. He said the yacht is currently near Batam island close to Singapore, but declined to say when or where the transfer will happen.

Indonesian police working with the FBI seized the yacht off Bali in February but faced a legal challenge from a Cayman Islands company registered as its owner.

The U.S. Justice Department, one of several foreign agencies investigating the alleged multibillion dollar looting of the 1MDB state fund by associates of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, had listed the yacht among the assets it could seize and sell to recover stolen funds.

"We will hand over the yacht soon," Silitonga said. "Special arrangements have been made by the two countries based on good relations."

At the time of the seizure, Malaysia was not cooperating with international investigations into 1MDB. But the massive corruption scandal in May led to the electoral defeat of Najib, who is now facing charges.

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

Low, who has so far evaded investigators, issued a statement through his U.S. attorney on Sunday, protesting the handover of the yacht.

"Actions like this make it increasingly clear that there is no jurisdiction where the issues in this case can be subject to a fair hearing, thanks to a global media circus fueled by politically motivated parties whose aim is to convict Mr. Low in the public arena," the statement said.

The Equanimity's lavish amenities include a helicopter landing pad, plunge pool, gymnasium and a cinema.

It was built in 2014 by the Dutch yacht manufacturer Oceano, which received detailed instructions from Low about its outfitting, according to the Justice Department's asset recovery case.

People also read these

Asian stocks markets retreat after Wall Street loss

Dec 23, 2016

Most Asian stock markets have declined in thin trading ahead of the Christmas holiday after Wall...

Asia shares falter as investors watch dollar, await job data

Jan 6, 2017

Asian shares are wavering as a weaker dollar discourages investors who are shying away from risky...

A look at how Trump might shake things up in Asia

Jan 16, 2017

Donald Trump has offered views on U.S. relations with Asia that could indicate radical shifts in...

Business group: China preparing to retaliate on trade

Jan 18, 2017

An American business group says China is preparing to retaliate if U.S. President-elect Donald...

Global stocks rise on robust US jobs report

Feb 3, 2017

Global stocks are up after the U.S. employment report showed a strong increase of 227,000 jobs in...

AseanCoverage is a next-gen news site focusing exclusively on online news from South East Asia.

Contact us: sales[at]aseancoverage.com