Luxury yacht in graft probe arrives in Malaysian port

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Malaysia's embattled former prime minister Najib Razak will be charged on Wednesday under a money-laundering act, the anti-graft agency said, in connection with a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in a video posted on his Facebook page, for facilitating the yacht's handover.

According to The Star, The Equanimity, which authorities said was owned by fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho, has arrived in the Indonesian island of Batam on Monday morning.

An aide said it will be in Malaysian territory within 48 hours.

The suits allege that $1.7 billion worth of assets were allegedly bought with the stolen funds, which United States officials are seeking to recover.

The U.S. Department of Justice says an estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.

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The Prime Minister's Office, in confirming yesterday afternoon that the vessel had been handed over to Malaysia, said "the handing-over process between the [two] authorities was in Batam". His Malaysian passport has been revoked and an arrest warrant issued.

In a civil suit seeking to seize assets allegedly bought with 1MDB money, the DoJ alleges that playboy financier Jho Low used about $250 million stolen from the fund to purchase the Cayman Islands-registered yacht.

Low, through a spokesman from his legal team, has described the handing over of the yacht to Malaysia as illegal and politically motivated. Najib, who set up and oversaw 1MDB, denies any wrongdoing.

Low, who has so far evaded arrest, issued a statement through his USA attorney on Monday protesting the handover of the yacht as an "illegal act" for ignoring court proceedings in the United States.

"At the end of the day, the yacht must be sold off" so that Malaysia can recover as much money as possible from it, Lim said.

In a filing to a California court, the justice department proposed "that all proceedings in this action be suspended in order to give the government and any interested claimant the opportunity to inquire of Malaysia through formal channels what its intentions are with respect to the defendant yacht".

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