Malaysia is seeking to quickly sell Low Taek Jho’s US$250 million (RM1.03 billion) super yacht just weeks after taking possession of the vessel that investigators alleged was bought with funds embezzled from a state investment company.
The government and state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) filed an application for permission to dispose of the 300ft boat that’s costing “substantial and escalating expenses” for maintenance, according to legal documents seen by Bloomberg News. Joseph & Partners, which is representing 1MDB and the Malaysian government, confirmed the order has been filed. A hearing is set for today. The Malaysiakini news website reported on the filing earlier.
Equanimity is “physically deteriorating, being exposed to the elements of the sea and weather”, according to the filing. “She is, therefore, a wasting asset, and it is in the interests of all parties that the vessel is sold as soon as possible to avoid further diminution of the value of the vessel.”
The yacht is among more than US$1.7 billion in assets that the US claims were acquired by Low, commonly known as Jho Low, and his accomplices with money they allegedly siphoned from 1MDB. A US district judge in May ordered Low’s companies to hand over the vessel to the US, so it could be sailed from Indonesia — where it was seized in February — and sold.
Instead, it ended up in Malaysia, arriving at a port in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on Aug 7. It’s unclear how Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad secured the Indonesian authorities’ agreement to relinquish possession of Equanimity to it.
Dr Mahathir is seeking to reclaim US$4.5 billion of funds potentially lost through 1MDB. He has called on the yacht’s owner to prove that it wasn’t bought using money from the scandal-ridden fund, at the centre of global probes linked to embezzlement and money laundering, while Low had said Malaysia’s move to acquire the vessel was “illegitimate”.
Joseph & Partners said questions relating to the case will be answered at a press conference today.
Malaysia is requesting for the sale of Equanimity to be conducted through public tender or private treaty, according to the court documents. — Bloomberg