Jho Low slams gov't for expediting sale of Equanimity

Rahmat Khairulrijal

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low has slammed the government for seeking a court order to expedite the sale of the super yacht Equanimity.

Low, in a statement issued through his lawyer, also maintained his stand that the seizure of the RM1 billion super yacht by the government was illegal and the court hearing which is expected to be held this evening, as a ‘sham’.

“The hearing is part of an unjust and arbitrary legal process subjected to the whims of a vindictive regime regarding an asset whose ownership has yet to be determined.

“The unfortunate part is that the United State government was willing to cover the cost of the ship’s upkeep while proceedings were pending in the US.

“Instead, as a public stunt, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad has unnecessarily put this financial burden on the government and, given the illegal manner which he took the asset, it is unlikely any bid will come close to its (the yacht) market value,” he said.

Meanwhile, the owner of the yacht, Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd in a statement earlier said that it has not receive any legal notice of the pending court hearing on the matter.

It also said that the seizure by the government and apparent intent to immediately sell it would drastically reduce the yacht’s potential sale value.

“Malaysia apparently does not have – or does not want to spend – the necessary funds to properly maintain the vessel while it is prepared for a value-maximising sale.

“Malaysia has instead proposed a ‘fire sale,’ in which the yacht is to be sold for a fraction of its true value,” it said.

It was reported by Bernama yesterday that 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB); its two subsidiaries, 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited and 1MDB Global Investment Limited; and the government filed a court order seeking to expedite the sale of the super yacht.

In the notice of application, the four plaintiffs are asking for the sale of the ship, bunkers, fuel, lubricants and other consumables on board to be conducted via public tender or private treaty by the Admiralty Court sheriff.

The firms want the sheriff to receive bids or offers for the vessel and the bunkers and for the purchase price to be paid to the sheriff in US dollars or euros or ringgit.

The firms said the proceeds from the sale of the vessel should be paid into court and placed in a bank account in Malaysia as approved by the Accountant-General.

A writ of summons was issued on Aug 6 to the “owner of the vessel“, as well as to Wilson Yacht Management Ltd, the company that operates the Equanimity.

The superyacht was brought to Malaysia on Aug 7 after the Indonesian authorities handed it to Malaysia.

It was seized off Bali in February at the request of the US authorities as part of the corruption investigation launched by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) into 1MDB. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd