The Malaysian Government must file an international suit to seize the Topaz and ensure that the proportionate part of the proceeds from the disposal be repatriated to Malaysia
It was revealed by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently that 1MDB funds ‘contributed’ towards the purchase of the world’s 7th largest yacht, the Topaz, which cost approximately US$688 million (~RM2.9 billion).
This revelation accompanied DOJ’s official claims to seize additional assets worth approximately US$96 million (~RM410 million), including paintings by Claude Monet, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as a high-end real estate in Paris.
According to the above claim, the Topaz, now renamed A+, was funded with a €400 million loan from Deutsche Bank. The DOJ revealed that A+ is owned by Oceanus Maritime, a company domiciled in the Isle of Man. The company is in turn beneficially owned by a UAE public official in a senior leadership role within the International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) of Abu Dhabi.
The loan was subsequently repaid in tranches, through money that was misappropriated from 1MDB amounting to approximately US$160,930,752 (RM687 million).
The previous Pakatan Harapan government has cultivated a strong relationship with the DOJ which has resulted in US$496 million (~RM2.1 billion) of seized assets repatriated in cash to Malaysia. This does not include the assistance provided by the DOJ in the seizure of another yacht, the Equanimity which was subsequently auctioned for US$126 million (RM538 million).
We are hence confident that any proceeds arising from the seizure of the new claims above will in time be repatriated to Malaysia.
However, despite the revelation that laundered 1MDB funds contributed towards the acquisition of A+, no claims on the A+ has been made to date.
We call upon the Malaysian Government to immediately file an international suit against the Oceanus Maritime to demand the return of the misappropriated US$160.9 million and additional appropriate compensation. Should Oceanus Maritime fail to do so, we must demand for the seizure of A+ as we did the Equanimity and carry out an international auction of the luxury mega-yacht.
The proceeds from all these seizures and repatriation must be allocated towards the repayment of 1MDB debts of which more than RM32 billion remains outstanding.
Tony Pua is DAP National Publicity Secretary and Member of Parliament for Damansara in Kuala Lumpur.