KUALA LUMPUR (BERNAMA) - The High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Friday (Oct 19) declared that the superyacht Equanimity belonged to the Malaysian government with state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as the beneficiary owner, when its registered owner failed to appear in court to claim the vessel.
"To that effect, the government is now free to sell the super yacht," said lawyer Sitpah Selvaratnam, who is leading the legal team for the government, 1MDB and two others who had applied for a judgment in default against the registered owner of Equanimity over the sale of the superyacht.
Ms Sitpah said the decision was made in chambers by Judicial Commissioner Khajidah Idris.
"The court today has declared that the two 1MDB companies which are 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited and 1MDB Global Investment Limited to be the legal and beneficial owner of the vessel. Therefore, indirectly the government of Malaysia be the ultimate beneficiary of these two companies."
"Now, the vessel can be sold without any legal restriction," she said.
Besides 1MDB and the government, the other two plaintiffs are 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited and 1MDB Global Investment Limited, which are 1MDB subsidiaries.
On Oct 5, the same court had granted an application by the four plaintiffs to appoint a central broker and an international appraiser to handle the sale of the Equanimity, which purportedly belongs to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low and was allegedly purchased using funds misappropriated from 1MDB.
It followed a decision on Aug 24 by the same court in granting an application by the four plaintiffs to sell the Equanimity.
In the application filed on Aug 23, the four plaintiffs named the owner of the ship, Equanimity of Cayman Islands, as the defendant in the suit filed via the law firm of Jeremy Joseph & Partners.
In the notice of application, 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.
The plaintiffs wanted the sheriff to receive bids or offers for the vessel and the bunkers and for the purchase price to be paid to the sheriff in US dollars or euros or ringgit.
They said the proceeds of the sale of the vessel should be paid into court and placed in a bank account in Malaysia as approved by the Accountant-General.
The superyacht was taken to Port Klang on Aug 7 after the Indonesian authorities handed it over to Malaysia. It was first seized off the Indonesian island of Bali in February at the request of the US authorities as part of the corruption investigation launched by the US Department of Justice into 1MDB.