When High Crime and Boating Meet
Published on August 21st, 2018
It is pulp fiction for the yachting industry. The year-long saga involving a former Malaysian prime minister, the U.S. Department of Justice and a Chinese billionaire took another turn last week as the $250 million superyacht Equanimity was handed over to Malaysian authorities who vowed they would sell the yacht.
Owned by playboy financier Low Taek Jho—nicknamed Jho Low–the 300-foot Equanimity has been a pawn in a battle between Low and the U.S. Department of Justice after U.S. attorneys alleged that the financier had siphoned $4.5 billion from the Malaysian public equity fund 1MDB to buy the yacht, properties in New York valued at $300 million, and other investments around the world.
Low used the yacht to entertain the rich and famous. He gave Hollywood starlet Miranda Kerr $9 million worth of jewelry aboard Equanimity.
In June 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s office filed a 251-page lawsuit against Low, arguing there was a conspiracy between a high-ranking Malayasian official, who turned out to be former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Low. Both used the public fund for their personal use.
Razak deposited $700 million from the fund into his personal account, while Low, listed as the fund’s financial director, steered billions into his own accounts. Since June, U.S. government agents have scoured the world for assets allegedly bought with stolen IMDB money.
On February 28, Indonesian police, backed by F.B.I. agents, seized Equanimity in Bali, Indonesia, at the request of the U.S. government. The Department of Justice asked an Indonesian court to allow them to take the boat back to the U.S. and sell it.
The U.S. was confident of its case and hired a crew for the return trip to the U.S. On April 17, an Indonesian judge surprised everyone by ruling that the seizure was not legal and ordered the boat to be returned to Low. – Full story