PAKATAN Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad has pledged to arrest Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho if the opposition coalition wins the next general election.
At an event in Kampung Baru, the former prime minister said Low’s arrest was one of the ways to start getting the people’s money back and pay off Malaysia’s huge debts.
“If I become the prime minister and Pakatan Harapan rules the country, I have some ideas to reduce the country’s debts.
“Maybe we can retrieve certain amounts of the money, we know where the money is. We catch Jho Low and squeeze him to get the money, because he bought a RM1billion yacht,” he told some 200 people at the event.
Prime Minister Najib Razak last month said Malaysia’s total debt in 2017 was RM685.1 billion.
On February 28, Indonesian authorities seized Low’s RM1 billion yacht, the Equanimity, one of the assets that the United States Justice Department (DoJ) alleged was purchased by Low with money siphoned from troubled state-investment arm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The US$260 million Equanimity was allegedly purchased by Low, an associate of the Malaysian prime minister, and whom the DoJ has fingered as the mastermind in a scheme to steal from the state investment fund.
Low responded by accusing the DoJ of overreach.
Later in a press conference, Dr Mahathir challenged Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak to show proof of the yacht’s ownership.
Salleh yesterday said there was no proof that Low was the owner of the super yacht or that funds from 1Malaysia Development Bhd were used to purchase the vessel.
“How can he know? I want him to show the documents, who owns the yacht.
“Every yacht must have a certificate of ownership, including other documents that will say where it is bought and from whom. I will believe him if he shows me the documents,” said Mahathir.
Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali yesterday said the Malaysian government would not claim the luxury yacht because it could not claim something it did not own.
The DoJ has filed a series of civil forfeiture suits to seize more than US$1 billion in real estate and other assets allegedly purchased with stolen money, but suspended the suits to launch a criminal investigation into the case.
The DoJ alleges that more than US$4.5 billion of 1MDB funds were diverted by high-level officials and their associates between 2009 and 2015.
Among the assets the DoJ has filed to seize are the Equanimity and the rights to Dumb and Dumber To, produced by Red Granite, a production house co-owned by Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson.
Meanwhile on Putrajaya’s plan to shut down 1MDB once it settled all its debts, Dr Mahathir said he wasn’t confident that the company would be able to pay off all its debts.
“Is it in 100 years? 1MDB has a lot of debts – RM42 billion. I want to know how are they going pay the debts.
“I don’t think (they will be able to pay), they can only talk,” he said.