Fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, has accused Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad of “hijacking” the legal proceedings of other countries in order to acquire the 1MDB-linked superyacht Equanimity.
In a statement from his lawyers, as reported by news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT), the controversial financier is insisting Malaysia’s seizure of the superyacht Equanimity was illegal.
This comes upon Mahathir’s insistence yesterday that both the US and Indonesian authorities were on board with Malaysia’s possession of the ship, which he said the US assured belonged to Low, as it was allegedly purchased with “stolen Malaysian money”.
Low’s lawyers reportedly accused Mahathir “putting words into the mouth” of the DOJ, adding that: “These repeated misstatements by Malaysia are embarrassing the US, which has stressed it has no involvement in the illegal seizure of the vessel and will update the US court on Aug 17.
“It is clear that the Mahathir regime has no interest in a fair and just legal process. His hijacking of established and long-running legal proceedings in other countries involving those governments (such as the United States) in the Equanimity matter prove this beyond any doubt.”
The Equanimity had been the subject of a custody battle between the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Indonesia after the former had filed a civil forfeiture suit on the US$250 million vessel last year.
The DOJ claimed that the luxury yacht was bought using the proceeds of misappropriated 1MDB funds laundered through the US financial system, and that Low owns the vessel through a series of intermediaries including Equanimity Ltd.
Indonesia announced last week that the ship would be handed over to Malaysia. It arrived in Port Klang on Tuesday where it remains docked.
Meanwhile, according to the Malay Mail, Low’s lawyers, from New York-based law firm PRCG, had further stated that the Malaysian premier was ignoring the law for political purpose.
The Malay Mail quoted the lawyers as stating: “Mahathir’s illegal taking of the yacht makes it impossible to sell it for fair value because of the still-open legal questions and the legal repercussions for any new owner.”
Upon touring the yacht yesterday, Mahathir had told the press that the new government intended to sell the vessel as it was too costly to maintain.
He challenged Low to return to Malaysia to return to the country, where the latter is being sought in relation to investigations on 1MDB, to seek legal action to claim the Equanimity.
Low had denied any wrongdoing in the regards to 1MDB.