Petaling Jaya—The fugitive financier at the heart of the 1MDB scandal and the Prime Minister of Malaysia engaged in a duel of words over the sale of a luxury yacht this week.
Low Taek Jho, more commonly known as Jho Low, accused the Government of Malaysia of incompetence after it sold his super yacht at a low price on Wednesday.
When Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad was asked to comment on Mr Low’s statement, he said, “He can come here and make the allegations and I’ll go to the court to defend my decision,” referring to the handling and the sale price of Equanimity, Mr Low’s luxury yacht, which the Malaysian government seized last year.
The Malaysian Prime Minister added that there was no point making such statements when one is in hiding, the New Straits Times reports.
Jho Low’s statement
Mr Low, who is wanted in both Malaysia and the United States, issued a statement through his lawyers, which was then published on his website.
The statement read, “The bargain-basement sale price accepted by the Mahathir Government for the yacht Equanimity is the final chapter in yet another tale of the regime’s incompetence and disregard for the rule of law.
Let us be clear, had the Mahathir Government not illegally seized the Equanimity from Indonesia and docked it in a hazardous environment at Port Klang, the vessel would have maintained its value and avoided a fire sale.
It took the Mahathir Government twice as long as they promised to sell the yacht, the auction flopped and the ‘transparent’ sales process the Mahathir Government committed to at the outset has been subject to multiple abrupt changes – largely forced on the Government through their own incompetence.”
The sale of Equanimity
On Wednesday, April 3, the Equanimity sold for US$126 million (S$170.6 million, RM514 million) to Genting Malaysia Bhd.
Malaysia’s Attorney General, Tommy Thomas, announced this in a statement on Wednesday morning. “The Government of Malaysia is pleased to announce that the Superyacht Equanimity is to be sold to Genting Malaysia Bhd or its special purpose vehicle (SPV) company at the price of US$126 million.
This will rank as the highest recovery to date for the Government of Malaysia from the 1MDB scandal; within a mere eight months from the commencement of this action.”
Malaysia has been eager to sell the yacht, as the government has been spending almost US $500,000 (S$ 677,000) for its monthly maintenance costs.
As of last November, Malaysians had paid RM3.5 million (S$1,147,000) for the upkeep, legal fees, port services and staffing of the Equanimity in the few months since it had been seized by the government.
The High Court of Malaysia had decreed that the yacht is the possession of 1MDB and the government of Malaysia since it was unclaimed by its registered owner.
Malaysia’s Admiralty Court approved that the offer from Genting to purchase the Equanimity be accepted based on the Sheriff’s Terms and Conditions.
Genting will be paying for the yacht by the end of this month.
The company made the best offer on the yacht in the five months that it has been on the market since October 2018, although it is somewhat lower than the market price evaluation made by Winterbothams at US$130 million.
Since Genting made the purchase directly from the government, there is no agency commission for the sale, which means savings for the Malaysian government of around US$4.4 million (S$6 million, RM18 million)
The Malaysian government seized Low Taek Jho’s superyacht in August 2018 and put it on sale shortly afterward as part of the effort to recover some funds stolen by Low and his cohorts from the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Mr Low reportedly paid US$250 million (S$ 344 million) for the super yacht.