Malaysia’s bad handling of yacht pushing down its price, owner warns

The Equanimity yacht currently docked in Port Klang, Selangor. Its owners blame Malaysian authorities for bad maintenance as well as exposing it to pollution.

PETALING JAYA: The company registered as the owner of the “Equanimity” has warned that Malaysia’s recent actions related to the luxury yacht are causing its value to drop drastically, as a court today gave the go-ahead to 1MDB to sell the vessel in a bid to recover money allegedly linked to the troubled state firm.

Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd said the yacht, which US investigators estimated to be worth RM1 billion, is currently running on generator power, which the company said is harmful to the vessel.

“Malaysia has currently docked the yacht in a hazardous environment in which toxins such as water pollution and nearby smoke are greatly damaging it,” the Cayman Islands-registered company said in a statement to FMT today.

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

Equanimity has been linked to businessman Low Taek Jho, who has avoided authorities in Malaysia and several other countries, accusing him of using stolen 1MDB funds to acquire the yacht.

Low has remained defiant, repeatedly condemning the seizure of the yacht as “illegal”, and vowed not to surrender to Malaysian authorities saying he would not get a fair trial.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court today granted an ex-parte order following an application to 1MDB Global Investments Ltd, 1MDB Energy Holdings Ltd, 1MDB and the Malaysian government.

Lawyers for 1MDB said the sale should be finalised without delay due to the high cost of maintaining the yacht, which has been docked at a cruise centre in Port Klang since its arrival early this month.

They also fear that a delay would cause the value of the yacht to depreciate further, and plan to complete the sale by the year-end through public tender.

But Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd said the move was a “remarkable violation of due process and international legal comity”.

“These misguided actions would create a cloud on the Equanimity’s ownership that could easily take years to resolve in several courts around the world,” it said.

The company also said it was in the dark about today’s court proceedings as it had not received any legal notice related to the application by 1MDB.

“Despite being owners of the yacht in question, Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd. has received no legally valid notice of any filing related to a Sale Pendente Lite, nor any notice of a pending court hearing in the matter. This would be a requirement under law,” it said, and maintained a stand taken by Low earlier that the seizure of the yacht in Malaysia was in violation of a US court order which appointed the US government as its custodian.

“For Malaysia to act unilaterally while there are pending court requests in the US would be an affront to the international rule of law,” it said.