Kuala Lumpur, April 3 (IANS) The Malaysian government announced on Wednesday that the yacht Equanimity, confiscated by the authorities from financier Jho Low, who was accused of being one of the brains behind the 1MDB embezzlement, has been sold for $126 million.
The vessel, decked out with a 20 metre swimming pool, spa and sauna, movie theatre and helipad, is part of the proceeds allegedly diverted from the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), according to open legal proceedings in Malaysia and the US.
The Malaysian authorities, who last year put the boat up for auction with a starting price of $250 million, agreed to the sale with the Malaysian company Genting, which operates several leisure complexes, the Attorney-General’s Office was cited as saying by Efe news on Wednesday.
The sale of the yacht to Genting marked the country’s largest recovery yet of 1MDB cash. Billions of dollars were allegedly embezzled from 1MDB, which was set up in 2009 to aid economic development.
The yacht, anchored in a marina on the island of Langkawi, will be delivered to its new owners at the end of April when payment will also be made.
The official statement said that Genting’s offer was the best among those received.
The yacht was seized on the Indonesian island of Bali in February 2017 at the request of the US Department of Justice.
The announcement of the sale coincided with the start of the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, the main defendant, at the High Court of Malaysia.
Najib faces a total of 42 corruption-related charges and his associates allegedly diverted $4.5 billion from the 1MDB, a scandal that contributed to his defeat in the elections last May.
Of that sum, the 65-year-old politician who led the nation from 2009 to 2018, allegedly misappropriated some 2.6 billion ringgit ($637 million).
In addition to Malaysia, half a dozen countries — among them the US, Switzerland and Singapore — continue with investigations linked to the embezzlement from the Malaysian state fund.
The US Justice Department said it believes that the money diverted from 1MDB totalled around $4.5 billion, of which about one billion was laundered in their country via the purchase of real estate, yachts, jewellery and works of art, among other goods.
Najib founded 1MDB in 2009 and directed it until 2016 to attract foreign investment and create a financial district in Kuala Lumpur, but the fund ended up accumulating losses of 42 billion ringgit (about $1 billion).