Today, November 28, is the last day for bidding on the Equanimity, Malaysian financier turned fugitive Low Taek Jho’s US $250 million (S$ 345 million) yacht, which was seized by the Malaysian government in August.
The 91-meter yacht has been used by celebrities such as Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr and heiress Paris Hilton and features a swimming pool, and helipad, and a Turkish bath, among other luxuries.
It is also a part of 1MDB history, the scandal that rocked Malaysia and helped bring down its former Prime Minister Najib Razak, with allegations of billions of dollars taken from the public fund, purportedly primarily by Low, and has even implicated the Goldman Sachs group.
Interested parties had to put in a US $ 1 million reservation fee just for the right to bid. But selling the yacht would help current Prime Minister Dr. Tun Mahathir Mohammad in fulfilling a campaign promise to recover the missing funds from the 1MDB scandal, as he said his goal was to get back US $4.5 billion from the fund.
Both international and local investors have expressed interest in acquiring the Equanimity, according to Burgess, the yacht specialist who is the sole broker for the sale. Ong Chee Kwan from law firm Christopher & Lee Ong represents Malaysia and 1MDB in the sale of the yacht.
The United States has filed forfeiture lawsuits against $1.7 billion of Low’s assets, which include jewelry worth S$ 1.78 million that Low gave Kerr, as well as a painting he gifted to actor Leonardo DiCaprio worth S$ 4.4 million.
In October, the Malaysian Admiralty Court ruled in favor of 1MDB and the government of Malaysia as the yacht’s rightful owners when nobody came forward to contest their claim to the Equanimity. Equanimity Cayman Ltd, who holds the yacht’s titles, claimed not to have received legal notifications concerning the court hearing.
Sealed bids on the yacht must be submitted to the Sheriff of the High Court of Malaya, which will choose the highest bid provided that it is higher than the amount contained in a sealed note indicating the appraised and court approved valuation of the yacht. Other options may need to be considered should the bids be lower than the appraisal price.
As of October 10, Malaysian taxpayers have already shelled out S$ 1.15 million for the yacht’s maintenance.