Malaysian court grants 1MDB, Putrajaya permission to sell Equanimity

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Lawyers Jeremy M. Joseph and Ong Chee Kwan speak to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 24, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — The High Court here today granted an application by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the federal government to sell luxury yacht Equanimity.

The lawyers representing the plaintiffs, Ong Chee Kwan and Jeremy M. Joseph, said High Court judge Datuk Khadijah Idris granted their application today in chambers, without representatives from the defendant.

“The court has granted our application pending determination of action, meaning we have got the order to sell the vessel.

“Our next step is to of course pursue with as much haste as possible to get the vessel sold,” Ong told reporters.

Ong stressed the urgent need to sell the vessel due to its high maintenance costs.

“The application is to have the vessel sold before the determination of action because it is a diminishing asset because the cost of maintenance is so high.

“We need to get it sold as soon as possible because the longer you have it maintained at this cost, the value of the vessel will diminish and the proceeds from it will also diminish,” Ong added.

The ownership and custody of the Equanimity — a RM1 billion yacht that allegedly belongs to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low — are currently disputed in United States court proceedings.

Jeremy then said the next step will be to appraise the value of the vessel.

“We need to get it valued; then there may be a condition survey carried out on the vessel, and subsequently, we will be speaking to specialist brokers. 

“So there will be a step-by-step process that follows from here, ultimately, to sell the vessel for the best possible price,” he said.

When asked, Jeremy kept mum on a ballpark valuation of the vessel, saying it was best to leave such things to the experts.

Jeremy also explained how the new vessel owners would obtain it free from previous legal issues, with a clean slate.

“Because one of the features of the admiralty sale is that the buyer buys it free from all encumbrances or legal issues, so it is getting a bona fide clean title.

“That is the reason we adopted the admiralty process and arrested the vessel, so whoever that buys it will buy it free and clean,” he said.

Ong added the following step after the sale of the vessel would be to obtain a judgment in default, which would allow them to act as the rightful owners and claim the proceeds of the sale.

“We know what is required to get a judgment in default. In our view, at the moment, we would have no problem in getting a judgment in default based on what we have.

“It will be a process we will be taking as a next step,” said Ong.

Related Articles Charged in absentia, Jho Low claims innocence against ‘political reprisal’ Equanimity owner claims no notice of court hearing to expedite sale Jho Low’s rep denounces govt’s court bid to expedite Equanimity sale as ‘sham’