Asia-Pacific News

$250 million superyacht linked to 1MDB scandal put up for sale

Key Points
  • The Malaysian government has put Equanimity, the yacht linked to the 1MDB scandal, up for auction.
  • Its sale will be brokered by a London-based firm, with bidding opening on Monday.
  • Prospective buyers are required to put down a $1 million deposit before they can bid on the yacht.
What happened to Malaysia's 1MDB money?

Bidding opened Monday for Equanimity, the $250 million superyacht at the center of Malaysia's 1MDB scandal.

The yacht was among assets linked to funds allegedly stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a state-run investment fund set up by former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The auction for Equanimity, set to run until November 28, is being brokered by London-based Burgess Yachts. Burgess was appointed to handle the transaction by the High Court of Malaya.

"The judicial sales process will follow strict guidelines, but essentially shall be by the submission of sealed bids by qualified potential buyers, to be opened by the Sheriff of the High Court of Malaya in November/December 2018," Burgess said in its online listing for the vessel.

"We are advised that in accordance with Admiralty law, the judicial sale will provide the buyer with an internationally recognized ownership title free of mortgage, attachment and all encumbrances."

Equanimity is described by the company as a 300-foot yacht with the capacity to accommodate up to 22 guests and a crew of 31. Its amenities include an "impressive beach club" as well as a health center, swimming pool and helipad.

On Friday, 1MDB's lawyer Ong Chee Kwan confirmed that the yacht would be put up for sale, The Straits Times reported.

"Those who qualify have to put up a deposit of $1 million before they are eligible to bid as we want to ensure only serious buyers come forward," he said.

Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim: Economic fundamentals are strong

His announcement came after Malaysia's High Court ruled that the government and 1MDB were the owners of Equanimity, and were therefore free to sell it.

Najib is currently facing more than 30 criminal charges over the 1MDB scandal, including money laundering and breach of trust, while former treasury chief Irwan Serigar Abdullah faces charges for a criminal breach of trust.

Both have pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, which carry individual jail terms of up to 20 years, financial penalties and a whipping sentence — however both would be exempted from whipping as they are over the age of 50.

U.S. authorities allege that $4.5 billion was laundered from 1MDB, and that around $700 million was siphoned into Najib's personal bank accounts.

Equanimity has been docked at Port Klang, near Kuala Lumpur, since August.

The 1MDB probe in Malaysia is 'inherently political': Professor