PORT KLANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - State fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has laid claim to the superyacht Equanimity.
Lawyers acting on behalf of 1MDB, two of its subsidiaries, and the government said they all claimed ownership of the Equanimity because they believe their money was misappropriated and used to purchase the vessel.
"That claim is based on the allegation that was filed by the (United States) Department of Justice (DOJ) in June last year.
"The DOJ complaint is verified against a penalty of perjury. So it carries a lot of weight," 1MDB lawyer Sitpah Selvaratnam told reporters on Tuesday (Aug 8) at the Boustead Cruise Centre, Pulau Indah where the Equanimity was docked. The yacht had arrived in Malaysia from Indonesia's Bali island, via Batam.
The lawyers had obtained a warrant of arrest against the ship from the Admiralty court in Kuala Lumpur. Ms Sitpah said that a case would go to trial at some point before this court.
"The rule of law has been totally maintained. The defendants who claim they are the owners have the opportunity to turn up in court to defend the claim and establish their ownership," said Ms Sitpah.
She added that they had to abide by the procedure of arrest by climbing up the mast as high as possible to attach the arrest warrant.
A sheriff of the Admiralty court served the warrant of arrest on the mast.
The lawyers in their submissions to the court claimed that the money to purchase the superyacht was made in four tranches between Jan 2014 to June 2014.
They say all this money belongs to 1MDB and its two subsidiaries.
Ms Sitpah said there were 17 crew members on board including the captain who is from Norway. None of the crew spoke to the media.
Ms Sitpah said they would go to court some time next week to get directions on how to maintain the vessel and what will happen to the crew.
"It is under the custody of court. It cannot be moved and cannot conduct any activity without their permission," she said adding that the crew will be allowed to go out for now.
Ms Sitpah also said that ball was in the registered owners hands on their next move.