Malaysia has sold a luxury superyacht allegedly bought with funds stolen from the nation’s 1M sovereign wealth fund for $126m (£95.5m).
The 300ft (91.5-metre) yacht Equanimity was seized from the fugitive financier Jho Low off the coast of Bali last year as part of a global investigation into the 1MDB scandal.
The Malaysian government said on Wednesday it had agreed to sell the yacht – which boasts a marble and gold leaf interior, 11 cabins, a 20-metre square swimming pool, Turkish bath, beauty treatment suite, cinema and helipad – to the casino operator Genting Malaysia for $126m.
Malaysia had attempted to sell the yacht, which Jho Low allegedly bought with $250m of stolen funds, at auction but its association with the 1MBD scandal had led to few serious offers and bids failed to reach a $130m reserve price.
Malaysia’s attorney general Tommy Thomas said the sale was the largest single recovery of the $4.5bn allegedly siphoned from the 1MBD fund. “Many offers were received [but only] a few were over $100m,” he said. “It was Genting, however, that offered the highest price; that was today approved by court.”
A spokesman for Low, who is wanted by Malaysia on money laundering charges that he denies, accused the government of undervaluing the yacht in “a fire sale”.
“It took the Mahathir government twice as long as they promised to sell the yacht, the auction flopped and the ‘transparent’ sales process the Mahathir government committed to at the outset has been subject to multiple abrupt changes – largely forced on the government through their own incompetence,” the spokesman said.
Genting, which was founded by the late Lim Goh Tong, who was once Malaysia’s richest man, said the casino chain would use the yacht to entertain its high-rolling gamblers. In a statement, it said the yacht would give it a “unique and competitive edge for its premium customers business”.
The yacht is among a long list of assets bought with money allegedly siphoned off from the 1MBD fund, including works of art by Monet and Van Gogh, homes in London, New York and California, a rare 22-carat pink diamond necklace valued at $27.3m and a see-through piano Low gave to the Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr.
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