Indonesia authorities seized the superyacht Equanimity in Bali today, as part of an international corruption investigation. It relates to alleged money laundering involving 1MDB, a Malaysian state fund, and a Malaysian financier. That financier, Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, owns Equanimity.
Several news outlets report that Indonesian officials spoke with the crew aboard the 300-foot (91-meter) Equanimity yesterday while she was in Benoa Bay. Video of the conversations appeared on Malaysian television. International news agencies published photos after authorities boarded, too. “Now we are taking action since we have received approval from the court to seize the boat,” Agung Setya, a member of Indonesia’s criminal investigation bureau, tells Metro TV.
The Indonesian government has been cooperating with the FBI over the money-laundering allegations. “We have legal confirmation that this asset is the result of a crime,” Setya also tells Metro TV. “Our law stipulates that anyone who hides an asset resulting from the proceeds of crime is committing a money-laundering crime.”
The fate of Equanimity remains unknown for now. Setya says he does not know whether Indonesian authorities will hand over the yacht, or if joint investigations will continue with her remaining in its waters.
The FBI investigation dates back to 2015. Malaysia’s prime minister faced accusations of diverting nearly $700 million from 1MDB to his own bank accounts. Five other countries, including Switzerland, Singapore, and England, launched their own money-laundering investigations within the following year. The U.S. Justice Department claims more than $4.5 billion overall was stolen from the fund. It also claims that Jho Low, an associate of the prime minister, stole more than $400 million of that money. The Justice Department further alleges that Low used some of it to buy Equanimity. Last June, the department filed a civil case seeking to recover the allegedly stolen assets, including the yacht. In fact, a U.S. District Court judge in California issued an arrest warrant for the yacht on behalf of the Justice Department.
The fund managers as well as the prime minister long deny any misconduct. Jho Low does as well. While he was not aboard Equanimity, he issued a statement today through a representative. He calls the Justice Department’s claims “deeply flawed and politically motivated.” “The DoJ is continuing with its pattern of global over reach—all based on entirely unsupported claims of wrongdoing,” it reads. The statement concludes, “We look forward to the court being presented with the actual facts which demonstrate that the DoJ’s case is completely without foundation.”