Yacht Allegedly Bought With Stolen Cash Returned to Malaysia

Published: 08 August 2018

592px-Equanimity the seized yachtEquanimity, the yacht owned by Malaysian billionaire Jho Low (CC BY-SA 4.0).

By Aisha Down

A luxury yacht that was allegedly purchased with misappropriated cash from Malaysia’s state-owned investment fund, 1MDB, was returned to the country on Tuesday on personal request of the Malaysian Prime Minister.

It belonged to Malaysian financier Jho Low before Indonesia seized it after the vessel found itself at the top of a long forfeiture list made by the US Department of Justice connected with the alleged embezzlement of US$3.5 billion from 1MDB. 

Pictures of the 300-foot, $250 million worth Equanimity show the ship gliding over crystalline seas near New Zealand and French Polynesia, its pool, sumptuous deck lounge, and helipad in full view.

On its website, the yacht maker describes the vessel’s “spectacular beach club with folding platforms giving direct access to the sea, and inclusive of a gymnasium, massage room, sauna, steam room, experiential shower and plunge pool.”

Reporters weren’t allowed on the ship when it docked in Port Klang Tuesday, so 1MDB lawyer Jeremy Joseph did his best to describe the interior.

Asked if it’s what he’d expect from a $250 million yacht, Joseph said, “Yes… We can see timber and marble. It’s nice.”

Some of the items connected to the 1MDB scandal - such as Marlon Brando’s Oscar statuette - were already returned to authorities but the forfeiture list still includes a Picasso, a pink diamond necklace, and the rights to a film called “Dumb and Dumber To.” 

Indonesia impounded the ship as it sailed to Bali in February, after a tip-off from the FBI. Later, an Indonesian court declared that it had been wrongfully seized. However, it was kept in port and impounded again in July.

Finally, a personal request from Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad secured the ship’s return to Malaysia. Mahathir thanked Indonesian authorities on Facebook  on Monday.

Meanwhile, Jho Low’s legal team in California on Monday filed a motion asking the US government to reveal its knowledge of the transfer of the yacht. In a statement released Sunday, a lawyer representing Jho Low lambasted the seizure as evidence of deteriorating rule of law in Malaysia.