Local firm keen to house jet for free

A Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft, similar to Jho Low’s, at a Singapore airshow. — The Straits Times

A Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft, similar to Jho Low’s, at a Singapore airshow. — The Straits Times

PETALING JAYA: A local aviation maintenance company is keen to house the Bombardier Global 5000 jet, owned by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, in its facilities for free when the plane is brought back to the country from Singapore.

“This is part of our contribution to help Malaysia reduce its debts,” said Executive Jets Asia Sdn Bhd quality assurance manager Khairul Ridzuan Hadis.

Executive Jets Asia is based at Senai International Airport in Johor while the plane is parked at Seletar Airport.

The Malaysian government is currently negotiating with Singa­pore to bring back the aircraft bought by Low, better known as Jho Low, allegedly with money mis­appropriated from the sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

“We will not bill the government any charges when the aircraft is parked at our property until it is sold,” said Khairul.

He said the company would also look after the jet and manage inspections by prospective buyers.

“We will also assist the government to carry out scheduled maintenance for the plane at a lower fee,” he added.

The aircraft maintenance charges in Malaysia cost 50% less than in Singapore.

Executive Jets Asia specialises in maintenance, repair and overhaul of local and foreign-registered aircraft.

Khairul said his company had also written to the Transport Ministry to make the offer following news that Malaysia was keen to get back the plane.

The private jet was impounded by the Singapore authorities in February last year after it was linked to the 1MDB controversy.

The plane, which is kept at a private hangar, is believed to have chalked up some RM3.5mil in parking and maintenance charges.

In a court filing in June 2017, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) stated that Low had used part of the US$700mil (RM2.3bil in 2009) diverted from 1MDB to acquire the luxury jet.

Built in 2008, the Bombardier Global 5000 costs about US$35.4mil (RM145mil).

It was bought at the end of 2009, less than three months after the US$700mil was moved from 1MDB.

The plane, registered in the United States as N689WM/MSN 9265 to a company called Wynton Aviation, is placed as a trust with Wells Fargo Bank Northwest.

Wynton Aviation was registered in the British Virgin Isles in 2009.

The DoJ stated that Wells Fargo’s records indicated that it is a holding company owned by Low.

It was learned that prior to the plane being seized, the jet was based at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, close to Low’s New York home.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that the DoJ was investigating if the money laundered from 1MDB had been used by Low to pay for the services of his legal team in the United States.

Low’s lawyers included former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and a lawyer who has been representing US President Donald Trump.

Christie headed Trump’s presi­dential transition team.

Others include Trump’s long-time lawyer Marc Kasowitz; Bobby Burchfield, a lawyer who has served as the Trump Organization’s ethics adviser; and Ed Rogers, a Washing­ton lobbyist with close ties to the Republican Party.

Christie has been representing Low in the cases involving forfeiture of the latter’s assets in California.

On Aug 24, Malaysia issued warrants of arrest against Low and his father Tan Sri Low Hock Peng over alleged stolen funds from 1MDB.

The financier, via his lawyers, has vowed not to submit to Malay­sian courts and at the same time challenged the Admiralty Court’s decision to grant an application by the government and 1MDB to sell the superyacht, Equanimity, which is also linked to him.

Courts Crime , Jho Low , 1MDB , jet