PUTRAJAYA (AFP) - A US$35 million (S$48.2 million) private jet owned by a playboy financier at the centre of a Malaysian corruption mega-scandal will be returned to the country as soon as possible, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday (Aug 13).
The plane, thought to currently be in Singapore, is the latest asset Malaysia is seeking to claw back that was allegedly bought by businessman Low Taek Jho with money looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Last week a US$250 million superyacht allegedly owned by the financier, an adviser to 1MDB often referred to as Jho Low, was returned to Malaysia after being impounded by authorities in Indonesia.
Allegations that huge sums were plundered from 1MDB contributed to the shock election defeat in May of former premier Najib Razak, who set up and oversaw the fund.
Tun Mahathir said that Mr Low's Bombardier Global 5000 jet would be returned to Malaysia "as soon as possible", but that it would need to be serviced first as it had been grounded for some time.
"Jho Low's jet will be brought here as soon as we can make it fly", the 93-year-old told reporters at his office in administrative capital Putrajaya.
Authorities are seeking to arrest Mr Low - who had close ties to Najib's family - but his current whereabouts are unknown.
The financier has previously denied any wrongdoing over the multi-billion-dollar scandal.
Najib, his family and cronies are accused of overseeing the plundering of 1MDB to buy everything from US real estate to artworks.
The US Department of Justice, which is seeking to recover items allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB cash in America, estimates that US$4.5 billion in total was looted from the fund.
Since his election loss, Najib has been charged with corruption and money laundering over the scandal.
Dr Mahathir also said Monday a series of massive, Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in Malaysia, which were agreed by the former government, may be dropped or modified.
The new government has already suspended some projects, including a major rail link. Mahathir will visit China at the end of this week.