PETALING JAYA, Aug 24 ― A company purporting to be the owner of superyacht Equanimity claimed that it has not received any legal notice of the RM1 billion luxury vessel, just hours before its scheduled hearing today.
Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd also accused the government of violating the due legal process by seeking to expedite a “fire sale” of the 300-foot, multi-storey yacht through the Malaysian courts while a suit involving the US government is still pending in US courts.
“To move for a sale in Malaysia immediately would be a remarkable violation of due process and international legal comity, and would call into question the actual ownership of the yacht for any potential buyer,” it said in an emailed statement through a London-based public relations firm.
It accused Putrajaya of looking for a quick sale because it could not, or would not, afford the “proper” upkeep of the luxury vessel, adding that such a “fire sale” would earn the government a just a “fraction of its true value”.
The Cayman-based company also added that the ownership and custody of the vessel is being heard before US courts ― including a US appellate court, with active requests filed before a US judge within the past 24 hours.
“For Malaysia to act unilaterally while there are pending court requests in the US would be an affront to the international rule of law. In fact, Malaysia’s seizure of the vessel is already contrary to a US court order appointing the US Government as custodian of the yacht.”
The company claimed that the sale of the Equanimity at this point would burden potential buyers due to the question of its ownership, and would take years to resolve in courts worldwide.
It further claimed that the superyacht is currently docked in hazardous and polluted waters detrimental to its maintenance.
“Due to the Malaysian government’s precipitous, ill-conceived, and misguided actions, the yacht is running 24 hours per day, 7 days a week on generator power, which is unsustainable and harmful to the vessel.
“Moreover, Malaysia has currently docked the yacht in a hazardous environment in which toxins such as water pollution and nearby smoke are greatly damaging it,” it said.
The High Court is scheduled to hear this afternoon an application for a court order to expedite the sale of Equanimity filed yesterday by the government, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and its subsidiaries 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited and 1MDB Global Investment Limited.
In the notice of application, the four plaintiffs are asking for the sale of the ship, bunkers, fuel, lubricants and other consumables on board to be conducted via public tender or private treaty by the Admiralty Court sheriff.
The firms want the sheriff to receive bids or offers for the vessel and the bunkers and for the purchase price to be paid to the sheriff in US dollars or euros or ringgit.
The firms said the proceeds of the sale of the vessel should be paid into court and placed in a bank account in Malaysia as approved by the Accountant-General.
A writ of summons was issued on August 6 to the “owner of the vessel”, as well as to Wilson Yacht Management Ltd, the company that operates the Equanimity.