Jho Low's seized Equanimity yacht has cost Malaysian taxpayers $4.7 million so far

The Equanimity yacht failed to sell at auction last year and is now docked at the northern island of Langkawi.
The Equanimity yacht failed to sell at auction last year and is now docked at the northern island of Langkawi.PHOTO: F. PANGESTU

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government will have spent an estimated RM14.2 million (S$4.7 million) by end-March on the superyacht it seized from fugitive financier Jho Low and is trying to sell, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

In a written parliamentary reply to a question posed by an opposition lawmaker on Wednesday (March 27), Mr Lim said RM11 million of the figure went to maintenance for the vessel, named Equanimity, last year.

The billion-ringgit yacht is being managed and maintained by Wilson Yacht Management, said Mr Lim according to the Malay Mail.

"The total cost spent is for the maintenance, repairs, fuel, legal fees, insurance costs and costs towards the sale process of the yacht," the minister was quoted as saying.

"For the months of January up to March 2019, the total cost that has and will be spent on this vessel is expected to be around RM3.22 million."

The 90m ship, formerly owned by Jho Low, also known as Low Taek Jho, failed to sell at auction last year after being seized by the Malaysian government, and is now docked at the northern island of Langkawi.

At a guide price of US$130 million (S$175 million), Equanimity features a helicopter pad, room for 22 guests and even a spa and beauty salon. Last year, it was valued at US$250 million.

 
 
 

Its former owner Low has been painted by United States prosecutors as a central figure in Malaysia's 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, where billions of dollars were allegedly embezzled from the state investment company.

The vessel was put up for sale in October after being seized in Bali as part of global attempts to recoup assets allegedly bought with money embezzled through the state fund.

Other items sought include a US$3.8 million diamond pendant Low gave actress Miranda Kerr, as well as a US$3.2 million Picasso painting he gifted actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Low has repeatedly maintained his innocence and faces charges including money laundering in Malaysia. He was charged in absentia, as his whereabouts are unknown.

The Malaysian Admiralty Court ruled last year that the nation's government and 1MDB have control of the vessel. A Malaysian court declined last year to accept any of the sealed bids from interested buyers, so the vessel is being offered through a conventional sale through the end of March.