DoJ says RM2.93 bil yacht A+ bought with funds linked to 1MDB

(FMT) – The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has confirmed that a luxury yacht, estimated to be worth US$688 million (RM2.93 billion), was purchased with funds linked to 1MDB.

According to The Straits Times of Singapore, the financing details of the Topaz, which has since been renamed A+, were contained in a DoJ filing to a federal court in California on June 30.

However, it was not stated if the US federal department would seek to stake a claim on the yacht as part of its ongoing 1MDB asset forfeiture exercise.

According to the DoJ, fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, chartered A+ at least five times between 2013 and 2014 at various locations.

They included Nice in France, Ibiza in Spain, the Caribbean, New York and around the Brazilian coast.

“The disclosure by the DoJ in a 280-page filing could tip the scales in Malaysia’s favour because the revelations over the funding of the Topaz purchase now formally link the 1MDB affair to a top United Arab Emirates official,” the report said.

The DoJ filing also noted that Oceanus Maritime, a private firm, paid US$688 million for the yacht in 2012.

“The private concern then proceeded to pay back that loan in tranches through money that was misappropriated from 1MDB,” The Straits Times reported, adding that it was done through a scheme led by the two former IPIC executives, Khadem Al Qubaisi and Badawy al Husseiny.

Oceanus Maritime is linked to a UAE official, identified only as Emirati Official 1, who is a senior leader in IPIC or International Petroleum Investment Co.

IPIC is entangled in a multibillion-dollar dispute with Malaysia over its transactions with 1MDB.

Last year, The Edge reported that close to US$140 million (RM597 million) that originated from 1MDB was believed to have been used to pay for the 482ft yacht, which was built – for US450 million (RM1.91 billion) – for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The Manchester City football club owner is IPIC’s chairman.