Malaysia’s seizure of Equanimity in violation of two court orders, say owners

The luxury superyacht Equanimity. Photo by Mohd Izwan Mohd Nazam

Equanimity arrived at Boustead Cruise Centre, Port Kang. Photo by Mohd Izwan Mohd Nazam

-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 7): Owners of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)-linked superyacht Equanimity have claimed its seizure by the Malaysian government today is “in direct violation of an existing Indonesian court decision and an order of the US court”.

The US$250 million superyacht arrived at Pulau Indah, Selangor at around 1pm today from Indonesia, reportedly under a personal request by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to the Indonesian government in June. 

In a statement today, Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd has called the seizure as “troubling”, considering it was done despite opposition by the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which is the custodian of the yacht, pursuant to an order from the Central District of California.

“As far as we are aware, this seizure by the Malaysian prime minister and the Malaysian government was not coordinated with DoJ in any way,” said the owners.

“This is apparent 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 DoJ or intend to abide by either of the court orders in effect, this would not have been necessary,” it said.

The DoJ has repeatedly asked that the Equanimity be handed over for return to US territory, after being awarded custody of the yacht by the US court, the statement said.

The South Jakarta District Court in Indonesia had ruled on April 17 that the yacht should be returned to Equanimity (Cayman) being its rightful owners, and not handed over to anyone else.

Following the court decision, the Indonesian National Police (INP) had dismissed any relationship between the yacht’s owner and 1MDB, while conceding it was the authority’s legal responsibility to obey the order and to immediately return to the owner, the court added.

It went on to question the transparency of Malaysia’s actions, leading to the yacht’s seizure by the Malaysian government today. 

“Although the Indonesian and US court proceedings had led to conflicting decisions regarding the status of the yacht, both proceedings at least had been open and transparent, with Equanimity (Cayman) being given a fair opportunity to present its positions and arguments.

“Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for whatever actions were undertaken by the Malaysian government to seize the yacht,” it added. 

Meanwhile, Reuters reported the DoJ is seeking to suspend its legal efforts to take posession of the superyacht, until it finds out what Malaysia would do with it.

"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, [as to] what its intentions are with respect to the defendant yacht," it said in a filing to the California Central District Court on Monday.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng reportedly said the Malaysian government plans to take inventory of items on the yacht, open the yacht for a one-day public viewing, and sell it to the higest bidder.

Equanimity is allegedly obtained by fugitive Low Taek Jho, using funds siphoned from 1MDB. DoJ, in a civil lawsuit, claimed as much of US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from the troubled state fund.