A superyacht allegedly bought with stolen money from Malaysia’s scandal-hit state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) is set to be sold at a discounted price to casino operator Genting, The Star newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Equanimity, a 91.5-meter luxury yacht, was sold on Wednesday to Genting Malaysia for $126 million, the Malaysia-based publication cited Attorney General Tommy Thomas as saying.
The vessel was formerly owned by Low Taek Jho — a Malaysian financier charged with money laundering related to the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal. Jho Low, as he’s commonly known, allegedly bought Equanimity with money stolen from the 1MDB fund.
Malaysia had initially expected to sell the seized yacht for at least $130 million — or approximately half of its original cost — but was unable to do so by its March 31 deadline, the newspaper reported.
The offer from Genting was the best offer the Malaysian government had received over the five months since Equanimity was put up on sale, The Star Online said.
“Although the Winterbothams’ market price evaluation of the Equanimity at USD$130mil (RM530.46mil) was not reached, the net returns to the government is as good, if not more than envisaged,” Thomas was cited as saying. Winterbothams is a court-appointed marine consultancy that helped determine the value of the yacht.
The urgency to secure a buyer had been growing as maintenance of the vessel was “bleeding” taxpayers, a source told the Star Online. In the last eight months, the Malaysian government has spent 14.5 million Malaysian ringgit ($3.55 million) on upkeeping Equanimity, according to the paper.
Low, through his lawyers, told CNBC in an emailed statement that “the bargain-basement sale price accepted by the Mahathir Government for the yacht Equanimity is the final chapter in yet another tale of the regime’s incompetence and disregard for the rule of law.”
“The Mahathir Government has shown that they are prepared to trash the value of the Equanimity in a misguided attack on their political opponents,” they said.
The Malaysian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.