A luxury yacht sought by US authorities was seized Wednesday off the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, officials said, with the vessel reportedly linked to a corruption scandal at Malaysia’s state investment fund.
Authorities boarded and searched the Cayman Island-registered vessel, which is reportedly worth some $250 million and is owned by Jho Low, a former unofficial adviser to the Malaysian fund 1MDB.
The US Justice Department alleges in civil lawsuits that $4.5 billion was looted from 1MDB in an audacious campaign of fraud and money-laundering.
“Based on the US investigation, part of the money was used to buy a yacht which has been sailing in Indonesia,” said Daniel Silitonga, a senior Indonesian police official, who declined to specify whether the US hunt for the boat was linked to the 1MDB case.
“We are still investigating who the owners of the yacht are.”
Some Indonesian and Malaysian media reported that the boat was owned by Low.
The ship’s captain and 34 crew are being questioned, Silitonga said.
Metro TV showed footage of what it described as Indonesian and American investigators boarding the yacht and questioning the crew.
The scandal surrounding 1Malaysia Development Berhad ( 1MDB ) has rocked the administration of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib, who founded 1MDB in 2009, has battled allegations that billions were looted from the investment vehicle in a vast campaign of fraud and embezzlement around the globe.
Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.