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US asks to seize diamonds, art and a 300ft yacht in 1MDB probe

US asks to seize diamonds, art and a 300ft yacht in 1MDB probe

A luxury yacht, a Picasso, a Madison Park condo, a 12 carat diamond and the rights to the movie ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ are among the assets that the US government is seeking to recover as part of its probe into funds allegedly diverted from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund.

A US Justice Department filing, dated June 15, names Low Taek Jho, a Malaysian financier, among those affected by the action. Low, whose business interests range from hotels to mining, has been the subject of a probe by US authorities into the misappropriation of billions of dollars from the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad fund, a scandal which rocked Malaysia and sparked investigations in financial centres around the world.

The Justice Department filing seeks to reclaim assets including 2.5 million shares in Palantir Technologies, a framed poster for the 1927 Fritz Lang film ‘Metropolis’, the Diane Arbus photograph ‘Boy with the Toy Hand Grenade’, as well as gold and diamond jewellery, Picasso’s ‘Nature Morte au Crane de Taureau’, and The Equanimity, a 300ft luxury yacht.

The DoJ filing alleges that Low used funds diverted from a 2013 bond issue by 1MDB, and a loan issued by Deutsche Bank, to acquire the boat.

'Between January 7, 2014, and June 3, 2014, over $250 million in funds diverted from 1MDB was funneled into the World View Account in four major tranches for the purpose of acquiring and maintaining The Equanimity,' the filing reads.

According to its builders, the yacht, which was delivered in 2014, has nine cabins, including four VIP staterooms, and can carry a crew of 28. Among its amenities are a 20m pool, a private hot tub, a movie theatre, Turkish bath and helipad.

In previous filings, the US has sought the forfeiture of the rights to the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, property in California, New York and London, and a Van Gogh.

In May, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced that its two-year review into 1MDB transactions via banks in the city-state had resulted in regulatory actions against a number of institutions, including Credit Suisse and UOB, and to prohibition orders against a number of individuals.

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