Asia-Pacific News

All the latest on 1MDB: A super-yacht is seized, and new allegations fly

What happened to Malaysia's 1MDB money?
What happened to Malaysia's 1MDB money?

The controversy around alleged abuses related to Malaysia's state investment fund picked up steam last week, with new allegations reported and a yacht seized in Indonesia.

The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday that the Malaysian financier at the center of the so-called 1MDB scandal tried to cut a deal to drop U.S investigations into the multibillion-dollar scandal.

The Journal, citing emails it reviewed, said that Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, tried to persuade an ally of President Donald Trump to end the probe into the fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

The Journal also reported that longtime Republican donor Elliott Broidy Low and his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, discussed a "consulting contract with Jho Low."

CNBC's requests for comment from 1MDB and Malaysia's Finance Ministry went unanswered.

In an email, Chris Clark of law firm Latham & Watkins, on behalf of Broidy and Rosenzweig, referred CNBC to his comments in the Journal.

Clark told the newspaper that Rosenzweig's law firm had been engaged by Pras Michel, a hip-hop musician and friend of Low's, "to provide strategic advice as part of a broader team to Mr. Low."

That statement added: "During the course of this engagement a number of strategies were discussed with Mr. Broidy, Mr. Michel, and other members of the team. But at no time did Mr. Broidy or Ms. Rosenzweig, or anyone acting on their behalf, discuss Mr. Low's case with President Trump, any member of his staff, or anyone at the U.S. Department of Justice."

Low has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Broidy, a venture capitalist, helped the Trump campaign raise more than $108 million, and he personally gave $160,000 to the Republican National Committee last year.

The Justice Department declined to comment further on the matter. The White House did not respond to queries from CNBC on whether Broidy and his wife had communicated with the president on the issue.

Seizing 'The Equanimity'

In a 291-page lawsuit last year, the U.S. Department of Justice detailed how Low allegedly spent 1MDB funds, including purchasing a $250 million luxury yacht called The Equanimity.

Indonesian police seized the yacht off the island of Bali last Wednesday and questioned the captain and crew.

The Justice Department did not comment on the yacht seizure, but sent CNBC an arrest warrant for the yacht issued by U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fisher for the district of California, which was filed in June last year.