Equanimity owners accuse Putrajaya of violating court orders

The Equanimity in Pulau Indah after Indonesian authorities released it to Malaysia. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The owners of the Equanimity superyacht, which arrived in Pulau Indah today after it was handed over to Malaysia, have accused Putrajaya of violating an existing Indonesian court decision and an order from a US court.

Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd said in a statement that this was probably 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 US Department of Justice (DoJ) or intending to abide by either of the court orders in effect, this would not have been necessary,” their spokesman said.

Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd said through recent legal filings, they had alerted the US court that on Aug 2, armed officers of the Indonesian National Police (INP) and Malaysian officials commandeered the yacht, reportedly at the behest of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“This is troubling because pursuant to an order of the Central District of California, the DoJ was the custodian of the yacht and paying for its maintenance and crew,” their spokesman said.

The owners pointed out that an Indonesian court had ruled on April 17 that the yacht should be returned to its rightful owners and not handed over to anyone else.

They said 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 relation between the Equanimity yacht and 1MDB”.

Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd also said the Malaysian government had ignored the ruling when it took the yacht.

It claimed that the seizure by the Malaysian government was not coordinated with the DoJ and was, in fact, carried out in opposition to the DoJ.

“The DoJ repeatedly asked that the Equanimity be handed over for return to US territory and argued to the US court that it, and only it, is capable of acting as a proper custodian of the yacht and preserving its value. The US court accepted this argument by granting the DoJ custody of the yacht,” the owners said.

Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd also cited reports that Mahathir had intervened personally with the Indonesian president through a phone call and/or in person, saying this showed that politics had been injected into ongoing legal proceedings in two sovereign nations.

“Although the Indonesian and US court proceedings led to conflicting decisions regarding the status of the yacht, both proceedings at least were 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.”

The superyacht, said to be worth US$250 million (RM1 billion), arrived at about 12.15pm today at the Boustead Cruise Centre terminal in Pulau Indah.

The yacht, which is at the centre of a US investigation into 1MDB, earlier travelled from Tanjung Benoa port in Bali to the Batam island before leaving for Malaysian waters yesterday.

It is believed that the Indonesian government, which seized the yacht at the request of US authorities early this year, decided to hand it over to Malaysia following a visit by Mahathir to Jakarta in June.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said Putrajaya might sell the Equanimity to get back the money allegedly stolen from 1MDB, which would be returned to the people.

Mahathir also challenged those who said the luxury yacht belonged to them to furnish documents proving that it was not bought with money stolen from 1MDB.

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