PETALING JAYA, April 17 — The seizure of luxury yacht Equanimity was without legal basis and invalid, according to a ruling by the South Jakarta District Court.
The Straits Times reported today that Justice Ratmoho had found the seizure of the vessel, owned by Equanimity (Cayman) Limited, “invalid and legally baseless”.
Ratmoho reportedly said the seizure should have been carried out “under the reciprocal legal assistance framework as stipulated by the 2006 law, which gives the mandate to the law and human rights ministry,” and not the police.
“There has been no ruling that the owner of the yacht had committed a crime. If there is no crime, there should not be any confiscation,” he was reported as saying.
On Feb 28, Indonesian police in Bali confiscated the 92-metre, Cayman Islands-registered Equanimity yacht off Bali as part of a joint operation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) had earlier alleged the Equanimity, valued at US$250 million (RM1 billion), was among assets purchased by Malaysian banker Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, using funds allegedly siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
The Bali police had planned to hand over the confiscated yacht to the US authorities after the Feb 28 seizure, but the company claiming legal ownership of the yacht took the matter to court in Indonesia over what it said were legal flaws.
Andi Simangunsong, a lawyer representing Equanimity Cayman Ltd, had earlier this month been quoted as saying the yacht was not linked to any criminal case in Indonesia and therefore the local police had no authority to seize the vessel.
He added that while a reciprocal legal assistance arrangement between Indonesia and a foreign country was possible, it had to go through the law and human rights ministry, not just through the police.
He also argued that the handing over of the yacht to the US authorities by the police would constitute a breach of legal procedures.