By Jude Chan, The Edge
SINGAPORE (Feb 6): Singapore has reportedly seized a US$35 million (S$50 million) private jet belonging to 1MDB mastermind Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.
The Bombardier Global 5000 jet has been impounded by authorities and grounded at Singapore’s Seletar Airport for the past two weeks, according to Sarawak Report.
The aircraft is part of some US$1 billion in assets allegedly acquired with funds siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that the US government is moving to seize.
The US alleges that the funds were laundered through the US banking system and is seeking to confiscate Low’s private jet, as well as other properties including a US$100-million interest in EMI Music Publishing Group, and a US$380-million stake in the Park Lane Hotel in New York.
The US Department of Justice in July 2016 filed a series of complaints alleging that funds diverted from 1MDB were used for the personal benefit of public officials and their relatives and associates to purchase luxury real estate in the US, pay gambling expenses at Las Vegas casinos and acquire more than US$200 million in artwork.
US authorities also accused Red Granite Pictures of using US$100 million that was diverted from 1MDB to finance the film The Wolf of Wall Street. Red Granite is helmed by Riza Aziz, the step-son of Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak, who oversaw the 1MDB fund.
The Malaysian sovereign wealth fund is at the centre of several international investigations by prosecutors in at least four countries – Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the US – into alleged corruption and money laundering by public officials.
Jho Low on board his private jet, photographed by Yeo Jiawei.
Low’s private jet played a role in Singapore courts last year at the trial of former BSI Bank wealth planner Yeo Jiawei.
A photograph taken by Yeo, which showed Low in his private jet just before the plane took off for a midnight flight from Singapore to Hong Kong, had been presented in court.
Yeo was sentenced to a total of 30 months’ jail after he was convicted on four charges of witness tampering in what has been described as the largest and most complex money-laundering case seen so far.
Yeo was found to have frustrated investigations into illegal money flows from account, individuals and entities linked to Malaysia’s scandal-hit sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Prosecutors said Yeo had amassed a net worth of some S$23.9 million in just 15 months through “secret profits” after he left the bank in June 2014 to work for Jho Low.