‘Equanimity must be sold to get something back for Malaysians’

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 7, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The federal government will eventually dispose of the Equanimity super yacht, which has been linked to funds misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), according to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

In a press conference at Parliament yesterday, Guan Eng said the government intends to monetise it, probably after a public viewing by Malaysians.

“At the end of the day, we just want to claw back as much money as we can from all these ill-gotten gains that were stolen from the Malaysian people, if possible at the highest price, and the money can be returned back. We don’t know how much we can get back, but we should claw back as much as possible,” he said.

“Leaving it there, everyday we have got to pay maintenance cost, see the asset deteriorate and diminish and depreciate [in value]. So we want to get the best value [for it]. It must be sold off, so that at least the people of the country can get something back,” he said.

Guan Eng also said the fact that the yacht will be in Malaysian waters indicates that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has consented for it to come under Malaysian custody.

“All these are possible only because of discussions and negotiations with the DoJ. The AG (Attorney-General) will be issuing a statement tomorrow (today) [on this]; I am sure this is [done] together with their cooperation. Let the AG explain that in detail in his statement tomorrow (today). But the fact that the yacht is here speaks for itself,” he said.

“By tomorrow (today), the Equanimity will be here in Malaysian waters, the AG will ensure that all the papers [for that] are in order, [with] proper controls imposed, and if possible, to make sure that a proper inventory will be done. We hope the public can view it, but probably not the entire ship, because there are also a lot of valuable items inside, so there must be some sort of control,” he added.


Preliminary audit report on 1MDB completed

Meanwhile, Guan Eng also updated that newly appointed auditor for 1MDB, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), has completed its preliminary report on the state fund, and that the government plans to make the final report public.

“From what we gathered in PwC’s preliminary report, basic good corporate governance or management principles were not complied with. We want to make this public — people have the right to know — but let us get it done properly first, it is a preliminary report,” he said.

On the legal action to be taken to recover the RM2.5 million paid to former 1MDB president and chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy as part of his remuneration for his service in the first half of this year, Guan Eng said the AG has agreed that the government should pursue the case.

“I have spoken to the AG, [and] he is in full agreement that we should pursue this case,” he added.