police seized the 91.5-meter M/Y Equanimity
near Bali as part
of an ongoing multi-billion dollar asset investigation. She was allegedly purchased
with funds siphoned from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Wall Street Journal reports that the Indonesian police received a request
from the FBI on February 21 to search for the boat, along with evidence of
money laundering linked to it. The vessel was found a few days later off the
coast of Lombok. The FBI personnel remained on the ground in Bali to assist the
Local news source Malaysiakini reports that
the yacht was first detected entering Indonesian waters last November, passing
through Raja Ampat before moving toward Lombok and Bali. It was believed to be
sailing towards the republic to evade U.S. authorities investigating the scandal.
Indonesian police claimed that the captain turned off the
vessel’s automated identification system (AIS) to avoid detection. “While
sailing, Capt. Rolf (no other name provided) had switched off the vessel’s AIS
several times, so the vessel was undetectable along Philippine waters and
towards the southeast of Singapore,” Indonesian police spokesperson M. Iqbal
told Detiknews. “At the time, U.S. authorities had issued a seizure warrant.”
There were 34 crew on board when the boat was seized. Agung
Setya, director of economic and special crimes at Indonesia’s criminal
investigation bureau, told Metro TV, “We have been inspecting the crew since
yesterday and now we are taking action, since we have received approval from
While Indonesian authorities and the FBI worked together on
the money laundering case, it’s unclear how the investigation will proceed.
“We will see how this develops…Whether we can do a joint
investigation later or whether we can hand it over later, we are in the process
of collecting and investigating,” Setya told Metro TV.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) is seeking to seize
approximately $1 billion worth of assets allegedly bought with the
misappropriated 1MDB funds by the yacht’s owner, Jho Low. Most of the assets
are in the U.S., but the vessel has spent most of her time in Thailand since
late 2016, according to the Wall Street
Other assets include a private jet, a hotel and real estate
in New York, and a $107-million interest in EMI Music Publishing. Model and
actress Miranda Kerr returned a jewelry set given to her by Low, and actor
Leonardo DiCaprio returned an Oscar once owned by actor Marlon Brando along
with other items that were funded with the 1MDB money.
The boat is now anchored off Bali and officials are
currently looking for Low.