Thorough process to identify real Equanimity owners: Lawyers

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A luxury yacht named "Equanimity" is seen in the Benoa harbor in Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. Indonesia has seized the 92 meter (300 foot) luxury yacht on the tourist island of Bali that is wanted by U.S. authorities as part of a probe in an alleged multibillion-solar corruption scandal at the Malaysia state investment fund 1MBD. (AP Photo/Ambros Boli Berani)
 

With the seizure of the luxury superyacht Equanimity, the supposed real owners – hiding behind a company – attacked the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities for what they say is a violation of their rights.

Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd. Equanimity issued a missive in the form of a legal letter claiming ownership of the 1mdb-linked vessel and lambasted the authorities in the two neighbouring nations for the seizure of the yacht.

However, the probe to identify the actual owner/s of the luxury superyacht will take betwen six to nine months, a Malaysian lawyer representing the Malaysian government said according to a report published by Bernama.

The process could be speeded up if nobody claims ownership on the vessel. After the dramatic seizure of the boat in the waters of Indonesia, the Malaysian investigators will now head to court again, and the next court of action is to identify the real owner or owners.

Equanimity has a crew of 17 and the maintenance costs come to about RM3 million a month.

The yacht, estimated to be worth about RM1 billion, is believed to have been bought with money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) by American prosecutors who have tried but failed to seize the asset.

Nevertheless, the Americans have now surrendered the boat to the Malaysian authorities while waiting for the next course of action from Putrajaya.

In the meantime, international authorities are still hunting down the owner, believed to be fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, to assist investigations into the abuse of 1MDB funds.

In an email to TISG, the company who claimed ownership of the superyacht said the Malaysian and Indonesia police had no right in seizing the boat while the US had started its own action to seize the asset.

Claiming to be from the Caiman Islands, the owners did not identify themselves but gave the name of the company that owned the vessel as Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd.

But to reclaim the vessel, the owners will have to prove that Mr Jho Low is unknown to them and that the boat was originally bought with legal funds, not with the illicit 1MDB cash.

The company claimed the vessel had nothing to do with the highflying Mr Low. It also meant that the boat was bought with their legitimate funds.

Their claim that the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities acted illegally fell apart yesterday after the US Department of Justice started procedures to stop the actions it took to claim the yacht in its investigation in the 1mdb scandal.