KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, continues to berate the government over its decision to seize the superyacht Equanimity.
In his latest statement today, issued on his behalf by Wells Haslem Mayhew Strategic Public Affairs of Australia, Low, who is wanted in connection with the 1MDB scandal, again reiterated his innocence.
He was commenting on a US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) motion in a US court seeking to dismiss its forfeiture action against the yacht.
Low said he was issuing the statement because although Equanimity was owned by Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd, he would “be inevitably drawn into the media coverage” of the latest US court decision.
“The DoJ, with the consent of Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd, has agreed to seek dismissal of this action. While it is not a perfect outcome, it is reasonable and understandable, given the brazenness of the Mahathir (Mohamad) government in illegitimately seizing the yacht from Indonesia, in a blatant violation of Indonesian law and with no regard for a US court order designed to ensure all parties were afforded their full rights under law.”
In a notice filed at the California Central District Court last year, the DoJ said: “The (US) government has learned that the defendant yacht has been released by the Indonesian government to the government of Malaysia, and has left Indonesian waters. It is the government’s understanding that a warrant was obtained in Indonesia authorising the turnover.
“The government proposes that all proceedings in this action be suspended in order to give the government and any interested claimant the opportunity to inquire of Malaysia through formal channels what its intentions are with respect to the defendant yacht.”
Low, in his statement today, went on to repeat what he had said in earlier statements. “Indeed, by illegally seizing the Equanimity, where the DoJ had been willing to cover the substantial cost of the vessel’s upkeep, docking it in a hazardous environment at Port Klang, and then subjecting the vessel to poorly-controlled media and public access, the Malaysian government is solely responsible for substantially eroding the yacht’s value. Not surprisingly, the hapless Mahathir regime, in a disastrous PR stunt, failed to sell the vessel at fair market value at auction.”
The statement said Low “recognizes” that, as a result of the DoJ’s motion to dismiss the action against the Equanimity, “the US court has made no negative findings or rulings against Mr Low regarding the US Government’s allegations in the forfeiture complaint, and there have been no admissions of any wrongdoing”.
On Oct 19, the Malaysian High Court declared that the government and 1MDB were the beneficiary owners of the Equanimity and that the government was now free to sell the billion-ringgit superyacht.
The judgment came after its registered owner failed to appear in court to claim the vessel.
The Equanimity was brought to Port Klang on Aug 7 after the Indonesian authorities handed it over to Malaysia. It had been seized off Bali in February at the request of the US authorities as part of the corruption investigation into 1MDB launched by the DoJ.
The government claims the Equanimity was bought using 1MDB money. It is in the process of selling it off to regain some of the money at least.