KUALA LUMPUR, (Reuters) – Malaysia is seeking to repossess a $35 million private jet owned by financier Low Taek Jho as part of investigations into a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.
The financier, also known as Jho Low, bought the Bombardier Global 5000 jet for $35.4 million in 2010 using funds allegedly taken from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has said.
Authorities in Malaysia and the United States are investigating how billions of dollars went missing from 1MDB. The DOJ says over $4.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund, with some of the money used to buy the private jet, a superyacht, Picasso paintings, jewellery and real estate.
Last week, the $250 million superyacht Equanimity, which the DOJ says was also bought by Jho Low, was handed over to Malaysia by Indonesia, which had seized the asset earlier this year.
When asked if Malaysia would also seek to take possession of the Bombardier Global 5000 jet, Mahathir said: “Yes, I think so. We have to bring it back,” state news agency Bernama reported yesterday.
The jet was grounded last year in Singapore, according to some media reports. Singapore has not confirmed it has the jet.
Singapore’s foreign ministry and a representative for Low did not immediately have a comment.
Malaysian authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Low, whose whereabouts are unknown. Low, whose Malaysian passport has been revoked, has previously denied any wrongdoing.
A spokesman for Low’s legal team has said the handing over of the Equanimity yacht to Malaysia was illegal and in violation of Indonesian and U.S. court orders.
In civil lawsuits filed in the United States, the DOJ is seeking to seize assets that were allegedly bought with 1MDB money.