RM15.5 million spent on Jho Low-linked superyacht, says AG

The Equanimity, now known as Tranquility.

PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya spent approximately RM15.5 million seizing superyacht Equanimity, now known as Tranquility, and maintaining the vessel for nine months until delivery to Genting Malaysia Bhd which bought it for US$126 million last month.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said about RM407,000 was spent on berthing charges between August and November last year, when the luxury yacht was docked at the Boustead Cruise Centre in Port Klang before being moved to the naval base in Langkawi.

In Langkawi, he added, the navy allowed the vessel to berth without any charge from November until its delivery on April 25 this year.

He said nearly RM12.7 million was spent on operational costs to maintain Tranquility, including fees for local agents, management fees for the superyacht professional management company, salaries and transportation of professional crew, protection and indemnity insurance, hull and machinery insurance, food and various other supplies, parts, equipment and services rendered for repair and maintenance works.

About RM400,000 was spent to engage a valuer and appraiser, while RM1.6 million was spent in legal fees for Messrs Joseph & Partners, as solicitors on record representing the government and 1MDB group of companies.

RM360,000 was spent in counsel fees for Ong Chee Kwan, and RM40,000 in obtaining foreign legal advice by Messrs Holman Fenwick Willan on de-registering and re-registering a vessel in red ensign choice jurisdictions.

“For all these payments incurred in maintaining and preserving the Equanimity under arrest, there were multilayer screening and approval processes,” Thomas said in a statement today.

“The legal team and PWC team (which is assisting the government in managing the operational affairs of 1MDB) served as the first filtering layer.

“Once approved, the invoices were submitted to my office for second screening, and thereafter by the sheriff of the Admiralty Court. It was only after the invoices were cleared by the three levels that they were submitted to the board of directors of 1MDB for payment approval.”

Adding that the RM15.5 million sum is not the final figure, Thomas said however that the remaining expenses would likely be much less.

“But in relative terms, this sum which works out to about US$3.75 million, is a petty sum for services rendered by all concerned for nine months.

“If the arrest had been undertaken anywhere else in the world, the cost would have been two to three times more,” he said, adding that no commission is payable to the broker as the sale was directly negotiated.

Thomas also said the purchase price would be kept by the stakeholder until the expiry of the 90-day period, during which the legal team would move the court for leave to gazette the receipt of payment for taxation of costs and determination of priorities for payment out of the proceeds.

“It is only after these orders of court that the monies will be credited into a segregated 1MDB asset recovery account set up solely to recover 1MDB assets to pay off 1MDB debt,” he said.

The superyacht is among assets allegedly bought by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho and his associates with money taken from 1MDB, US and Malaysian investigators have said.

Low, popularly known as Jho Low, allegedly paid US$250 million for the 91m yacht, which has an interior clad in marble and gold leaf, a spa and sauna, a 20m swimming pool, a movie theatre and helipad.