Indonesian police have been questioning the captain and crew of luxury yacht Equanimity (IMO 1012086) which was seized in Bali on Wednesday February 28th at the request of the US Department of Justice (DoJ) via the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), reports Reuters.
The request related to alleged money laundering at a Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Police in Bali seized the yacht, Equanimity after Indonesian police received a letter from the FBI on February 21st requesting help to enforce a court order, Indonesian National Police Spokesman Muhammad Iqbal Abduh said, adding that police had questioned the captain and crew and would check their immigration papers to see if there was any evidence of a crime being committed.
Citing FBI information he said that the yacht’s Automated Identification System (AIS) had been switched off several times in waters around the Philippines and Singapore.
Over the past 180 days Equanimity sailed from the northeast to the northwest of Malaysia and Singapore, and then from the Indonesian island of Bali to Papua and back again. At several points her movements are unclear.
1MDB, set up in 2009 by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, is currently subject to six money-laundering probes, with the DoJ asserting in civil lawsuits that the equivalent of $4.5bn had been misappropriated by high-level officials of the fund and their associates. In August last year the DOJ asked for a stay on its civil lawsuits, seeking to seize more than $1.7bn in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds, on the grounds that it was conducting a related criminal probe.
Among those assets sought is Equanimity, cited as a $250m luxury yacht bought by Malaysian financier Jho Low, alleged in the US lawsuits to have used proceeds diverted from 1MDB to buy the 91-metre Equanimity.
Agung Setya, head of the National Police special crimes investigation unit told Reuters that Indonesian authorities were not looking for Low, whose whereabouts are unknown.
A spokesperson for Low told Malaysia’s New Straits Times on Thursday that it was “disappointing that, rather than reflecting on the deeply flawed and politically motivated allegations, the DOJ is continuing with its pattern of global over reach – all based on entirely unsupported claims of wrongdoing.”
2014-built, Cayman Islands flagged, 2,999 gt Equanimity is registered with Shipowners’ Club on behalf of member Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd.