Following on from the news that detained 91.5-metre (300-foot) superyacht Equanimity had been handed over to Malaysian authorities by the Indonesian government, a spokesperson for Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd has released a statement to ‘set the story straight’ amidst reports of alleged illicit behaviour.
In March, it was reported that Equanimity was seized by Indonesian authorities as part of a U.S. investigation into the siphoning of assets from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) between 2009 and 2015.
The superyacht, allegedly bought with funds embezzled from 1MDB, is believed to belong to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho. He has been identified as a key figure in the 1MDB scandal, but at this time his whereabouts are unknown.
As reported by SuperyachtNews.com, a spokesperson for Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd has issued the following statement to purportedly set a few facts straight:
“As far as we are aware, this seizure by the Malaysian prime minister and the Malaysian government was not coordinated with the USDOJ [U.S. Department Of Justice] in any way, but instead was done in opposition to the USDOJ, which had repeatedly asked that the Equanimity be handed over for return to U.S. territory and had argued to the U.S. Court that it, and only it, is capable of acting as a proper custodian of the yacht and preserving its value. The [U.S.] Court had accepted this argument by granting the USDOJ custody of the yacht.
“Moreover, an Indonesian court ruled on 17th April, 2018 that the yacht should be returned to Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd. – its rightful owners – not handed over to anyone else. Following this ruling, the INP acknowledged that ‘as a legal responsibility... the Indonesian National Police shall obey the order of the South Jakarta District Court to immediately return the Equanimity to its owner,’ and that, ‘[p]ursuant to the facts disclosed in the court hearings, it can be concluded that the legal owner of the Equanimity... is Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd. and there is no relations between the Equanimity yacht with the 1Malaysian Development Berhad.’
“The Malaysian government ignored all this and took the asset in direct violation of an existing Indonesian court decision and an order of the U.S. court. This is apparently why more than a dozen armed Indonesian police and Malaysian officials boarded the yacht last week without prior notice and forced it to sail to Malaysia. Presumably, had they been cooperating with the USDOJ or intending to abide by either of the court orders in effect, this would not have been necessary.
“Major news sources have reported that the Malaysian prime minister intervened personally with the Indonesian president through a phone call and/or in person, thereby injecting politics into ongoing legal proceedings in two sovereign nations.
“Although the Indonesian and U.S. court proceedings had led to conflicting decisions regarding the status of the yacht, both proceedings at least had been open and transparent, with Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd. being given a fair opportunity to present its positions and arguments. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for whatever actions were undertaken by the government of Malaysia to seize the yacht.”
Equanimity’s owners categorically reject the seizure of the yacht by Malaysian authorities. The aforementioned Claimants' Notice concludes with the request that the U.S. Court orders the U.S. government to file a status report by 17th August 2018, concerning the new factual development and detailing its knowledge regarding the transfer of the asset to Malaysia and what efforts it has made, if any, to secure the yacht.
To read more about the 1MDB scandal, visit Bloomberg.