A luxury yacht allegedly paid for with funds from a multi-billion-dollar scandal that helped topple Malaysia's government arrived outside Kuala Lumpur today, with authorities hoping it will help in their prosecution of the country's disgraced former leader.
The 300-foot (90-metre) Equanimity, equipped with pool, helicopter landing pad and cinema, belonged to Jho Low, a flamboyant international financier who allegedly played a central role in the 1MDB controversy that has engulfed former prime minister Najib Razak.
The yacht -- worth about $250 million -- was handed over by Indonesian authorities who had seized it off the tourist island of Bali in February. (Reuters)
The large, blue and white boat arrived in Port Klang, west of the capital, after setting sail from the Indonesian island of Batam. It was accompanied by a Malaysian navy frigate and three smaller vessels.
A large team of officials was seen entering the yacht. Malaysia's attorney-general welcomed the boat being turned over, and said that "sensitive and delicate negotiations" had taken place between Malaysia, Indonesia and the US to ensure it happened. (Reuters)
Indonesian authorities impounded the boat on a request from the US Department of Justice, which is seeking to seize USD 1.7 billion of assets allegedly bought with money looted from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
The government has said it plans to open the Equanimity to public viewing, before eventually selling it off. Legal experts say the boat could bolster the case against Najib and others linked to the scandal.
The Cayman Islands-flagged Equanimity was first seized in the Indonesian holiday venue of Bali in February at the request of U.S. authorities investigating 1MDB. The DOJ has alleged in lawsuits filed in the United States that the yacht was bought by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, with funds diverted from 1MDB.
According to yachtcharterfleet.com, a website for luxury charters, the Equanimity has an interior clad in marble and gold leaf, a spa and sauna, a 20-metre (66-ft) swimming pool, a movie theatre, a lift and a helipad. (Reuters)
Earlier on Tuesday, claimants to the ownership of the Equanimity filed a petition in a U.S. court contesting the handover of the vessel to Malaysia calling it an "unlawful and extrajudicial" seizure.