Court gives green light for appointment of brokers, appraiser for Equanimity

Lawyer Sitpah Selvaratnam (middle), who leads the legal team for 1MDB and the government. With her are lawyers Ong Chee Kuan (right) and Jeremy Joseph.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court, sitting as an admiralty court, gave the green light to the government and 1MDB today on the appointment of brokers and an appraiser to sell off the RM1 billion luxury yacht Equanimity.

Senior lawyer Sitpah Selvaratnam, who is leading the legal team for 1MDB and the government, said the appointments were effective today.

“The central broker can now start doing the necessary paperwork to put up advertisements and information memorandums for potential buyers on the specifications and condition of the vessel.

“We anticipate that the vessel will come out for sale in the next few weeks,” she said after a meeting with judicial commissioner Khadijah Idris in chambers.

Sitpah said they hoped the Equanimity would have a new owner and be out of Malaysia by early December.

“Of course, we know this is a niche market and the number of potential buyers out there is small.

“But we hope we have a good purchase receive, and that is acceptable to the court,” she added.

Sitpah said the appointed brokers and appraiser had international reputations and were well-known in the yacht industry.

Other members of the legal team who were present in court were lawyers Ong Chee Kuan, Jeremy M Joseph, Vinodhini Samuel and senior federal counsel Alice Loke representing the government.

In August, the 1MDB and government team obtained an order to sell the superyacht, saying the cost of maintaining the vessel was high.

The Equanimity has been parked at the Boustead Cruise Centre terminal in Port Klang since the Indonesian government handed it over to Malaysia.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad previously urged the vessel’s owners to come forward and claim it, and provide proof that it was not bought with money stolen from 1MDB.

The Cayman Islands-flagged Equanimity, which is linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, was seized in February by the Indonesian government at the request of US authorities as part of a multi-billion dollar corruption investigation related to 1MDB launched by the Department of Justice.

However, an Indonesian court ruled in April that the yacht was wrongfully impounded and should be released to its owners.

Indonesian police seized the yacht again in July following a formal request for legal assistance from the US.