KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — The Malaysian government’s seizure of the yacht Equanimity is illegal, Jho Low’s lawyers said yesterday.
The lawyers representing the fugitive businessman said the confiscation of the luxury vessel — which they said is owned by Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd — broke an Indonesian law and court decision, besides breaching recent United States court orders.
“The action of the Mahathir government in illegitimately taking this asset shows just how quickly the rule of law disappears in Mahathir’s regime,” said Low’s lawyers.
“It is a violation of an Indonesian law and court decision by a politically-motivated Malaysian government bent on advancing its own political agenda with little regard to existing court rulings or basic legal rights.
“As he did in Malaysia’s 1988 judicial crisis, Mahathir is showing the world that his new regime still has no interest in the rule of law,” they added, referring to the sacking of then Supreme Court Lord President Tun Salleh Abas during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first term as prime minister.
Low’s lawyers pointed out that the US’ Department of Justice (DoJ) has argued that it must have possession of Equanimity to ensure that the asset retains its value pending a court hearing that can determine the final ownership and the rights of all parties involved.
“Actions like this make it increasingly clear that there is no jurisdiction where the issues in this case can be subject to a fair hearing, thanks to a global media circus fuelled by politically motivated parties whose aim is to convict Mr Low in the public arena,” they said.
International newswire Reuters reported yesterday that Indonesia has agreed to hand over Equanimity to Malaysia, but Indonesian police did not specify when.
Indonesia impounded the US$250 million (RM1.02 billion) yacht in February in Bali at the request of US authorities in their corruption investigation of Malaysian state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Quoting an anonymous source familiar with the negotiations, Reuters reported that Indonesia had agreed to hand over Equanimity to Malaysia following a personal request by Dr Mahathir.
The DoJ’s civil lawsuits, which claim that US$4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB by high-level officials of the firm and their associates, have reportedly placed Low as a central figure in the 1MDB scandal. The Malaysian financier allegedly used money diverted from 1MDB to purchase Equanimity, which is registered in the Cayman Islands.