Equanimity, the US$250 million superyacht and trophy in one of the world’s biggest financial heists, is now available for charter under its new name Tranquility, after its seizure and subsequent fire sale to one of Malaysia’s wealthiest men.
The 91.5-metre yacht, currently moored at Le Vieux Port at Cannes on the French Riviera, is available for US$1.25 million a week, not including fuel and extra charges, according to its agent Camper & Nicholsons. The vessel is owned by Orient Peace, the Cayman Islands-registered unit of Genting Group, one of Malaysia’s biggest conglomerates with businesses from casinos and cruises to plantations to power plants.
For that price, the client gets a glimpse at the lifestyle of its previous owner Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, whose taste for luxury and lavish parties were the fodder of entertainment headlines from Hong Kong to Hollywood.
“Everything you can think of is found there, and many things that you don’t think about is also there,” Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in August 2018 during a visit to the yacht that his government had impounded from Low. “It is not really a yacht, but a huge ship.”
Launched by the Dutch builder Oceano in 2014, the vessel’s highlights include a “beach club” with folding platforms at the stern and the sides that drop down to the water, an on-board gymnasium, a massage room, a sauna and a 200-square foot plunge pool. A circular jacuzzi with a clear bottom is on the upper deck, visible from the deck below.
A grand piano sits in the main saloon, bedecked in bamboo, marble, gold leaf and wenge wood, which comes from an endangered tree species. The interior decoration was done by Andrew Winch Designs of the UK, known for designing the private jets, superyachts and mansions of the world’s billionaires.
Powered by two 4,828 horsepower engines giving it a range of approximately 5,000 nautical miles, Tranquility arrived at the French Riviera on July 1 from Singapore via Sri Lanka.
Maintenance cost on the yacht is estimated at 2 million ringgit (US$483,000) a month, Mahathir said last year.
Low is a key figure in an international money laundering investigation related to the alleged misappropriation of US$4.5 billion (HK$35.1 billion) from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak was arrested on July 3 last year for his role in what has been described as the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s history, with reports of some US$700 million of 1MDB funds flowing into his personal accounts to fund his and his wife’s lavish lifestyle.
Low, who has not been seen in public since 2015, has denied all charges. Court documents in 2017 said that the embezzled funds were “laundered through a complex series of transactions, including through bank accounts in Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the United States.”
A global hunt was initiated by the US Department of Justice to seize assets bought with funds from the scandal, including artwork, luxury real estate and jewellery.
US court documents alleged that 1MDB officials diverted more than US$850 million to private entities incorporated in the Seychelles and BVI, and that the funds were used to purchase Equanimity for “Low’s personal benefit”.
The yacht was seized in Bali in February 2018 by Indonesian authorities on behalf of the US government. The yacht actually had its automatic identification system, which allows vessels to be tracked, turned off while at anchor at Gili Gede near Bali, according to superyacht agents familiar with the matter. But a tourist recognised the yacht, and posted its photos online, alerting the FBI to its whereabouts.
An Indonesian court subsequently ruled against the seizure, but wouldn’t allow the yacht to leave Bali. In July, after a June visit from newly elected Mahathir, Indonesian authorities returned the yacht to Malaysia. Equanimity was moored in a Langkawi marina for sale, where it found no takers for the Malaysian government’s minimum asking price of US$130 million.
On April 3, 2019, the yacht was finally sold to Genting for a discounted US$126 million in a private deal.
“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,” Low said on the same day through his publicist.
Genting, chaired by billionaire Lim Kok Thay, owns resorts and plantations in Malaysia and is one of two casino operators in Singapore. Through its subsidiary Genting Hong Kong, Lim owns three cruise lines and the Italian yacht builder Wider. Genting Hong Kong also owns the German shipyard Lloyd Werft, which specialises in building large yachts and ships.
The purchase of the superyacht would allow Genting “to differentiate itself from its competitors and provide [Genting Malaysia] with a unique and competitive edge for its premium customers business,” the company said.
In 2018, Genting Hong Kong had US$1.6 billion in revenue, up from $1.19 billion in 2017. Losses for 2018 were $213 million. Over the past five years, Genting Hong Kong’s stock has declined steadily from HK$3 a share to HK$1 per share. In 2018, Genting Malaysia suffered its first net loss in five years.
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