Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak will be charged under the money-laundering act on Wednesday in connection with an ongoing scandal concerning the 1MDB state investment fund, the government 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.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the yacht has set sail from the Indonesian island of Batam near Singapore and arrived in Malaysia's Port Klang on Tuesday.
Dr Mahathir said the Malaysian government believes the vessel, valued at US$250 million (RM1.02 billion), belongs to the country "because the vessel has been bought with Malaysian money stolen by certain parties". Following the handover of the yacht to Malaysia, the Justice Department has sought to suspend legal proceedings to determine what Malaysia plans to do with the vessel. The 1MDB scandal led to his shocking electoral defeat in May and Najib is now facing charges. US investigators said Low, known widely as Jho Low, bought the yacht with proceeds diverted from 1MDB.
Civil lawsuits filed by the DOJ listed a total of US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.
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On Sunday, Low issued a statement through his lawyers condemning Malaysia's possession of the yacht, claiming the move was "politically motivated" and that the decision went against court rulings in the USA and Indonesia. Low has urged the court to direct the USA government to state efforts it has made to secure the vessel and to find out Malaysia's intentions by Aug 17.
Thomas said the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had invoked the Admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur against the superyacht.
"The Court issued a Warrant of Arrest against it", he said in a statement today.
Thomas said that as a result of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAs) between Indonesia, the United States and Malaysia, which were activated recently, sensitive and delicate negotiations were conducted at the highest levels of different agencies in the three countries to accomplish the feat.