Malaysia has slapped a $130 million (€115 million) price tag on a superyacht seized from a fugitive financier in an attempt to recoup losses from a multi-billion dollar scandal at a state investment fund, a government lawyer revealed on Friday.
The Equanimity’s price is just over half the amount originally paid by tycoon Taek Jho Low, often referred to as Jho Low, who was charged by the US Justice Department last month for his alleged involvement in a massive money laundering and bribery scheme.
The 91-meter superyacht is among $1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought by Low and his associates using money pilfered from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) investment fund.
He reportedly forked out around $250 million for Equanimity, which has a marble and gold leaf interior, a spa and sauna, a 20-meter swimming pool and a movie theater and helipad.
Financier Jho Low’s whereabouts are unknown
The Admiralty Court in Kuala Lumpur set the price after an appraisal by UK-based marine consultancy Winterbothams, and the government will consider bids in the region of $130 million, said government lawyer Jeremy Joseph.
The sale should be completed by March 31 next year, local media reported.
Lawsuits have identified Low as a key figure in the 1MDB scandal but his whereabouts are currently unknown. In statements released through US lawyers he has maintained his innocence and slammed the superyacht’s seizure as “illegal and costly.”
Jho Low’s alleged role at the heart of 1MDB
According to the Justice Department, top executives and associates of then Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak siphoned off $4.5 billion from the state-owned 1MDB fund between 2009 and 2014.
Read more: What’s next for Malaysia’s disgraced ex-PM Najib Razak?
The money was laundered through shell companies with bank accounts across the globe, including in the United States, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore, then US Attorney General Jeff Session said in a Washington speech last year.
US prosecutors identified 36-year-old Low as a central figure and charged him and two former Goldman Sachs bankers in November with misappropriating money from the fund.
A friend of Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz, he held no official position at 1MDB but allegedly had a significant influence over its dealings
He is accused of using the proceeds to pay bribes and kickbacks to foreign officials, buy luxury real estate, art and jewelry and help finance Hollywood blockbusters, including “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
am/msh (Reuters, AP)