KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, has rejected Putrajaya’s assertion that the US government has proven that the superyacht Equanimity was bought with money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Instead, he accused the Mahathir administration of “lying and putting words into the US’ mouth”, pointing out that the US case against Equanimity is still pending in the courts.
“The US hasn’t proven anything. The truth is this: the US filed unproven allegations in a civil forfeiture complaint more than a year ago — then halted the proceedings before any party had any meaningful chance to respond,” a spokesman for Low said in an emailed statement through the latter’s New York-based law firm PRCG.
According to Low’s unnamed representative, the US said the opposite in its court filings.
International news wire Bloomberg reported that lawyers for Low had filed a case in a Los Angeles federal court last Thursday for its government to clarify the Malaysian government’s expression of thanks to it after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said it was not involved in the transfer of Equanimity to Malaysia.
The case file name was reported as US v. All Right and Title to the Yacht M/Y Equanimity, 17-cv-04441, US District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
Low’s spokesman accused Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of “ignoring the law solely for political purposes”.
“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,” he said in response to the prime minister’s remarks in yesterday’s news conference that the Malaysian government is entitled to keep or sell Equanimity “because it was bought with our stolen money”.
Low’s spokesman further claimed that despite the US saying in its court filings that it has no knowledge of Equanimity’s seizure, the Malaysian Attorney General has said it was done after “sensitive and delicate negotiations with the United States”.
This, he claimed showed “the Malaysian government is lying and putting words into the US’s mouth”.
“These repeated misstatements by Malaysia are embarrassing the US, which has stressed it as no involvement in the illegal seizure of the vessel and will update the US court on August 17,” Low’s spokesman said.
The US$250 million (RM1.02 billion) yacht is currently docked at the Boustead Cruise Centre Terminal after arriving from Indonesia last Tuesday.
The Cayman Islands-flagged Equanimity was seized by Indonesian authorities on February 28 in Bali at the request of US authorities as part of a multi-billion-dollar corruption investigation launched by the US DOJ related to 1MDB.