KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has agreed to sell a superyacht linked to a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to casino operator Genting Malaysia Berhad for US$126 million, the country's Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said on Wednesday (Apr 3).
The Equanimity is among assets allegedly bought by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho and his associates with money taken from the fund, US and Malaysian officials have said.
The Cayman Islands-registered Equanimity was seized in February last year 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. Many offers were received, with a few exceeding US$100 million," Thomas said in the AGO's news release.
"There will be no agency commission to be paid as the offer was negotiated directly with the Malaysian government, resulting in savings of about US$4.4 million."
Low allegedly paid US$250 million for the yacht, which has an interior clad in marble and gold leaf, a spa and sauna, a 20m swimming pool, a movie theatre and helipad.
“This judicial sale at US$126 million is historic, by any measure,” said Thomas.
“It records a high-water mark for our judicial system in ensuring that market value is secured for a vessel sold through the processes of Court, without any discount.
“It is even more commendable that this is achieved in a very sophisticated high-end superyacht sale, where the pool of buyers is extremely small.”
A statement will be issued once the purchase price is received.
For transparency, this will also include a breakdown of the incurred expenses. The net amount will be credited into a newly opened 1MDB asset recovery account, the release said.
On Aug 24 last year, a Malaysian court granted an application by the government as well as 1MDB and two of its subsidiaries to sell the yacht.
In the application filed on Aug 23, the four plaintiffs asked for the sale of the ship, bunkers, fuel, lubricants and other consumables on board to be conducted via public tender or private treaty by the Admiralty Court sheriff.