11 July 2024

A US$250 million super yacht owned by a fugitive Malaysian billionaire and at the centre of a major graft inquiry arrived in Malaysia this afternoon after an approximately 20-hour journey from Indonesia, according to the New Straits Times.

The vessel, known as Equanimity,  which has been linked to the Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue would be inspected by several High Court officers.  Once the inspection is completed, a meeting will be held among the officers and the ship’s crew members.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to visit Equanimity in a couple of days.

The yacht,  owned by Taek Jho who has close ties to with former prime minister Najib Razak, was first seized by Indonesian authorities at the request of the US authorities as part of an investigation by the Justice Department to the 1MDB scandal.

On Monday, Dr Mahathir, on his Facebook page, thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Indonesian authorities for handing over the vessel.

Meanwhile, the US Justice Department which had sought custody of the yacht said proceedings in the US courts should be suspended until it finds out what Malaysia would do with the vessel.

“The government proposes that all proceedings in this action be suspended in order to give the government and any interested claimant the opportunity to inquire of Malaysia through formal channels what its intention are with respect to the defendfant yacht, “ the US Justice Department said in a filing to the California Central District Court on Monday.

Malaysia’s Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters on Monday that the government planned to take inventory of items on the yacht and open the vessel to public viewing before eventually selling it at the highest price.

A total of US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, according to civil lawsuits filed by the US Justice Department.

The fund, founded by former prime minister Najib Razak ,is at the centre of money-laundering probes in at least six countries, including the US, Switzerland and Singapore.