Malaysia has agreed to sell the 92m superyacht Equanimity – linked to a multibillion-dollar financial scandal – to casino operator Genting Malaysia Berhad for US$126 million, the country’s Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said, according to IBI News.
US and Malaysian officials have said that Equanimity is among assets allegedly bought by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho and his associates with money taken from sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The Cayman Islands-registered Equanimity was seized in February 2018 off Bali, Indonesia, at the request of the US Department of Justice, before it was handed over to the Malaysian government in August.
A news release from the Attorney-General’s Office (AGO) of Malaysia said the offer by Genting was approved for acceptance by the Admiralty Court in Kuala Lumpur, with the purchase price to be paid and received by the court by the end of April.
“This [US$126 million] is the best offer received over the five months, from October 2018, when the Equanimity was first put up for sale,” said Attorney General Thomas in the AGO’s news release. “Many offers were received, with a few exceeding US$100m.”
Equanimity, which currently belongs to the Malaysian government, is reportedly worth US$250 million with a guide price for sale of US$130 million. The guide price was set after the yacht was valued by UK-based independent appraiser Winterbothams.
Lawyer Sitpah Selvaratnam said last December that the government had received a court order to permit the second phase of the judicial sale of the vessel.
“The first phase received bids but the bids were not of acceptable degree. So, we have to move into the second phase,” the lawyer said. She explained that the second phase would be a normal sale through private negotiation.
The 92m yacht is currently docked at the Royal Malaysian Navy jetty in Bukit Malut, Langkawi.
Malaysia’s disgraced former leader Najib Razak pleaded not guilty to all charges against him at the start of his trial over the multibillion-dollar financial scandal that brought down his government last year and sent shockwaves around the world.
The 65-year-old faced seven charges in the first of several criminal proceedings over his alleged involvement in the looting of sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment vehicle established to develop the economy of the South East Asian nation.
The former premier and his cronies are accused of plundering billions of dollars from 1MDB and spending it on everything from high-end real estate to artworks – and Equanimity.