Jho Low’s Equanimity, which arrived at the Boustead Cruise Centre, Pulau Indah, today, has been properly seized under Malaysian laws.
- Docked at Boustead Cruise Centre in Port Klang
- 1MDB claims superyacht
- Massive team enters for inspection
- Six to nine months to determine who owns luxury boat
- Quick sale preferred as it costs RM3 million monthly to maintain vessel
- Najib claims he doesn’t know who owns the yacht, and he has never been in it
“Chambers has invoked the admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur against the yacht, and on 6th August 2018, the Court issued a Warrant of Arrest against it. Accordingly, the Equanimity is properly seized under the laws of Malaysia,” Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said. (Admiralty jurisdiction refers to all maritime-related disputes.)
“As a result of the mutual legal assistance (MLA) treaties between Indonesia, US and Malaysia which were activated recently, sensitive and delicate negotiations were conducted at the highest levels of different agencies in the three countries to accomplish this feat,” Thomas added.
Among the agencies involved in this operation were the police, the Royal Malaysian Navy, MACC and the AGC.
“We would like to express our profound gratitude to the governments of Indonesia and the US, especially the Republic of Indonesia Police (POLRI) in extending cooperation and collaboration to us to enable this to be accomplished,” Thomas said.
Since 10am this morning, more than 50 reporters and photographers from various local and foreign media organisations started to converge at the terminal.
The yacht, escorted by Malaysian Marine Police patrol boats, was first sighted at about 12.15pm today.
The 91.5-metre-long vessel had 17 crew members on board, including the captain who is from Norway.
After it docked at about 12.30pm, a large team of at least 50 policemen headed by six officials from the High Court, Attorney General’s Chambers, Customs Department, and Immigration Department carried out certain inspection procedures which took about an hour.
The 1MDB legal team appointed by the AGC said they claimed ownership of the Equanimity because they believe their money was misappropriated and used to purchase the vessel.
“That claim is based on the allegation that was filed by the (United States) Department of Justice (DOJ) in June last year.
“The DOJ complaint is verified against a penalty of perjury. So it carries a lot of weight,” lawyer Sitpah Selvaratnam told reporters.
The lawyers had obtained a warrant of arrest against the ship from the Admiralty court in Kuala Lumpur. Sitpah said that a case would go to trial at some point before this court.
“The rule of law has been totally maintained. The defendants who claim they are the owners have the opportunity to turn up in court to defend the claim and establish their ownership,” said Sitpah.
She added that they had to abide by the procedure of arrest by climbing up the mast as high as possible to attach the arrest warrant.
A sheriff of the Admiralty court served the warrant of arrest on the mast.
The lawyers in their submissions to the court claimed that the money to purchase the superyacht was made in four tranches between Jan 2014 to June 2014.
They say all this money belongs to 1MDB and its two subsidiaries.
Sitpah said they would go to court sometime next week to get directions on how to maintain the vessel and what will happen to the crew.
“It is under the custody of the court. It cannot be moved and cannot conduct any activity without their permission,” she said adding that the crew will be allowed to go out for now.
The legal team said it would take six to nine months to determine who owns the Equanimity.
It added that a quick sale is preferable as it costs RM3 million to maintain the vessel every month.
The legal team was on the yacht for about two-and-a-half hours, with one of the lawyers describing the yacht as “classy” with its combination of timber and marble finishing.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he has no knowledge on claims that the Equanimity was bought using 1MDB money.
He added that investigation must be done to find out who really owns the yacht.
“Of course I have no knowledge of it, I have not been on board. I do not know about it until it came out in the press,” Najib said.
On why the government under him did not pursue the claim earlier, Najib said the government then, was more interested in the full settlement with the UAE, on the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) matter.
“That is worth much more than this Equanimity. But Equanimity is being used, again, as a populist move.”
What was important he said was the overall settlement on the IPIC issue.
“You’re going to get much more in the settlement with UAE and IPIC as opposed to just making an open bidding for the Equanimity.”