How Genting bought Jho Low’s superyacht – linked to Malaysian 1MDB scandal – for US$126 million
Fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low’s luxurious superyacht, Equanimity, which is linked to a multibillion-dollar scandal at Malaysia’s state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), has finally been sold.
Casino and theme park operator Genting Malaysia Berhad bought the yacht on Wednesday for US$126 million, Tommy Thomas, Malaysia’s Attorney General, said on Wednesday.
This is about half the original price of US$250 million, and less than the Malaysian government’s minimum asking price of US$130 million.
The 91-metre (300-foot) yacht can reportedly sleep up to 22 guests and 31 crew, and has an interior clad in marble and gold leaf. It boasts a cinema, gym, spa, 20-metre swimming pool, lift and helipad.
Equanimity was among assets allegedly bought by Low and his associates with money taken from the fund, US and Malaysian officials have said.
Low, who has repeatedly maintained his innocence, faces charges including money laundering in Malaysia.
He has been charged in absentia amid suspicions that he is hiding out in China.
Check out a timeline of how the now-notorious superyacht went from its days as Low’s “party” boat to being sold at auction.
Equanimity first comes under the spotlight after investigations begin into Low’s alleged involvement in the 1MDB corruption scandal.
The US Department of Justice claims that the businessman owns more than US$1.7 billion in assets, allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds, including the superyacht, Reuters reports.
Equanimity, which yacht broker Burgess describes as having “cruised extensively”, has been used by Low for hosting parties, attended by celebrities such as Australian model Miranda Kerr.
The yacht, along with its 34-man crew, is located and seized in Bali, Indonesia, and inspected by Indonesian and US authorities working together on the investigation, Reuters reports.
Low responds by criticising the US for taking the vessel based on “unsupported claims” about his alleged wrongdoing, Malaysian newspaper, The Star, reports.
Subsequently, an Indonesian court rules that the seizure is illegal, and the yacht is released, but is not allowed to leave Bali’s Tanjung Benoa port.
Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad visits Indonesia and makes a personal request for the yacht to be handed over to Malaysia, Reuters reports.
Indonesian police impound the yacht again.
Indonesia hands the yacht over to Malaysia, and the vessel is later spotted in Port Klang, Selangor. On its arrival, the public and the media flock to see the ship.
Thomas says that the vessel has been brought to Malaysia after legal treaties between the US, Indonesia, and Malaysia were activated.
Malaysia announces plans to take an inventory of the ship’s items, allow the public to view the vessel, then sell it at the highest price.
Low criticises the Malaysian government, calling the move “a publicity stunt” that will result in bids for the vessel falling below its fair market value, Reuters reports.
Equanimity is put up for auction, with the ship’s estimated value to be disclosed only after bids closes on November 28.
If the highest bid matches or exceeds the estimated value, the court will accept the sale.
The Star reports that bids for the yacht were “not of acceptable degree”, with the minimum price set at US$130 million – about half of its original purchase price.
Yacht specialist Burgess, the broker for the sale, says it will typically take up to two years to sell a yacht of this value.
Malaysia’s government receives several offers for the yacht of over US$100 million and sells it to the highest bidder, Genting Malaysia.
Thomas says since the company has negotiated directly with the government for the vessel, instead of through an agency, it will save about US$4.4 million in commission fees.
- The casino and theme park offered the highest bid for the seized vessel, Equanimity, which was originally bought by the fugitive businessman for US$250 million