Minister says luxury yacht seizure being used to mislead Malaysians on 1MDB case – here’s what that’s all about

Minister Salleh Said Keruak claims that the controversy surrounding The Equanimity has become a political tool by the opposition.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak has lashed out at opposition party Pakatan Harapan and its leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for allegedly using fake news as a political tool.

The centre of the argument: a luxury yacht named The Equanimity.

On Wednesday (Feb 28), the yacht was impounded by Indonesian authorities as part of a multi-billion dollar corruption investigation linked to Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), reported Reuters.

The Equanimity has in the past been linked to Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho who is better known as Jho Low.

Jho Low responded to the yacht seizure by accusing US officials of global overreach and has denied any wrongdoing.

Now, the opposition party has taken opportunity of The Equanimity’s seizure to mislead Malaysians, Salleh said in his blog on Thursday (Mar 1).

He added that unverified and unproven allegations were made with regards to Low’s supposed ownership of the yacht and its purchase using 1MDB funds.

“The reality is that the source of the allegations is contained in the US DOJ civil lawsuit, which in fact has been put on hold since August 2017,” says Salleh.

“Until today, apart from bare allegations contained in the law suit, the US DOJ has not shown any tangible proof that Jho Low is the actual owner of the yacht or that it was purchased with funds from 1MDB.”

He further said the US DOJ’s allegations have yet to be proven in a court of law since the Department’s press conference in July 2016.

“The Opposition has failed to reveal that the alleged source of funds in the DOJ lawsuit is from Aabar BVI, which according to the DOJ lawsuit, had alleged business dealings with Jho Low.”

Salleh wrote that even though 1MDB did have business dealings with Aabar BVI, 1MDB has not been involved in any business dealings with Jho Low and is not a party to the DOJ lawsuit.

Dr Mahathir has not yet provided any comments in response to Salleh’s claims.

He has not written anything about the yacht incident on social media as well.

Aside from the mystery surrounding the yacht’s ownership, the lack of local media coverage about the luxury yacht controversy has also been criticised.

Former Utusan Malaysia senior editor Ku Seman Ku Hussain on Thursday lambasted the mainstream media blackout of the yacht seizure, Malaysiakini reported.

In a Facebook post, Ku Seman questioned the intention of newspapers that either published Jho Low’s statement claiming the political motivation of the seizure or completely ignored the incident.

He was quoted as saying: “Why are there, parties here, who are so eager to protect Jho Low? As the elders say, there will no [sic] smoke without fire.”