Malaysia to sell yacht at center of 1MDB scandal for $126M

Former prime minister Najib Razak stands trial today on seven charges pertaining to SRC International

Former prime minister Najib Razak stands trial today on seven charges pertaining to SRC International

Malaysia also wants $7.5 billion in reparations from Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs, which it accuses of covering up the looting of the nation's state fund. Malaysia filed criminal charges against the USA bank and two of its key bankers, accusing them of misappropriating money, bribing officials and giving false statements when helping to arrange bond sales for 1MDB.

"The accused is not above the law, and his prosecution and this trial should serve as precedents", he said.

Thomas added that the government was appreciative of the offer by Genting.

For this SRC trial, Najib is facing seven charges namely: one count of abuse of position under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) under Section 409 of the Penal Code, and three charges of money laundering under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

They relate to suspected transfers totalling 42 million ringgit ($14.5 million) into his bank account from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.

In a statement announcing the sale on Wednesday (April 3), Malaysia's Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said the Admiralty Court in Kuala Lumpur had approved the offer by Genting to purchase the vessel, Equanimity.

The yacht was returned to Malaysia after being seized previous year in Indonesia.

The superyacht Equanimity has been sold to Genting Malaysia Bhd for US$126 million (S$170.5 million), says the Attorney-General's Chambers.

"This will rank as the highest recovery to date for the government of Malaysia from its 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal, within a mere eight months from the commencement of this action", he said in a statement on Wednesday (April 3).

The luxury vessel is among assets allegedly bought by Low, also known as Low Taek Jho, and his associates with money taken from the fund, United States and Malaysian officials have said.

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Low, who has repeatedly maintained his innocence, faces charges including money laundering in Malaysia.

Malaysians voted Mr Najib out of power in May 2018 as disgust grew over corruption and rising living costs.

A new government headed by veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad, who is 93 and in his second stint as premier, came to office on a wave of public anger, and has reopened investigations.

The scandal with the Malaysian state fund has been making headlines for years and is being investigated in at least six countries.

The US Department of Justice has said about $6.3 billion was misappropriated from the fund.

The luxurious lifestyle of Najib and his family also came to light with the discovery of almost $300 million worth of goods and cash at properties linked to him.

Mr Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, has also been charged with corruption.

He was initially due to stand trial in February, but appeals by his defence team over procedural matters saw his case put on hold until a judge last week ruled the trial should finally proceed.

A small crowd of supporters was waiting for Najib as he arrived at the Kuala Lumpur court ahead of his trial, and he prayed with them for a few minutes before entering the building to shouts of "Long Live Najib". The review will be heard on Thursday.

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