PETALING JAYA, Dec 18 — Fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho, has taken potshots at Putrajaya again from his hideout, claiming that the government’s move to auction off the superyacht Equanimity is a failed public relations stunt.
Low, who is better known as Jho Low, said the “predictable failure” to hold a successful auction is another example of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s regime “prioritising illegal acts over the rule of law in a transparent effort to score political points.”
“This was a failed PR stunt from the outset,” Low’s spokesman said in a press statement issued through his lawyers today.
“By illegally seizing the yacht from Indonesia, where the US Government had been willing to cover the substantial cost of the vessel’s upkeep, docking it in a hazardous environment at Port Klang, and then subjecting the vessel to poorly-controlled media and public access, the Malaysian Government was responsible for substantially eroding the Equanimity’s value.”
The Admiralty Court had set the auction guide price of US$130 million (RM543 million) for the superyacht, which Low had allegedly bought for US$250 million (RM1.04 billion) using money from the 1Malaysia Development Board.
The legal team appointed to handle the transaction said on December 5 that registration to bid for the superyacht closed on November 28. There has been no announcement yet on how many bids were received.
Low today maintained that Equanimity is owned by Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd but he had issued the statement as he had been drawn into it.
His spokesman said Dr Mahathir’s regime had “arrogantly ignored” court rulings in Indonesia as well as established legal proceedings in the US by removing Equanimity from Indonesia where it was initially seized.
“Consistent with its politically motivated actions, and through a predetermined process by the Mahathir regime, the Malaysian Government only then announced that it had established a so-called ‘right to sell’ the vessel.
“With so much doubt hanging over its ownership, no sensible, independent third-party buyer is going to purchase a vessel from an unreliable vendor like the Mahathir regime at anything other than a hugely depressed value.
“Indeed, what now amounts to the doomed fire-sale of the Equanimity is an admission that this political PR stunt by the Mahathir regime has failed, and that these acts by the Malaysian Government have been nothing more than political gamesmanship at the cost of the rule of law and the fair administration of justice,” the statement read.
The Equanimity is among US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought by Low, and his associates with money taken from the fund, the US Department of Justice has said.
The 9m yacht has an interior clad in marble and gold leaf, a spa and sauna, a 20-metre swimming pool, a movie theatre and helipad.
Last night, Low, who is wanted in Malaysia for multiple criminal charges over alleged money-laundering, maintained his innocence after new criminal charges connected to the 1MDB scandal were filed against him.