The “hot news” today is that the US Department of Justice did not agree nor consent to the Malaysian government’s arrest of the Equanimity. Despite the AG’s claim that the Malaysian government activated the MLA between Malaysia, Indonesia and the United States to arrest the ship, it would appear now that like the Jamal Yunos case, it was merely from a backdoor agreement between Mahathir and Jokowi without the involvement of US authorities.
Recently, Raggie Jessy issued a challenge to the Prime Minister to provide the evidence that the Equanimity was purchased with money stolen from 1MDB within 48 hours. There were no forthcoming statements from the PM or any government official but the DOJ on the other hand confirmed what has been pointed out all along – the Malaysian government had acted on its own to have the yacht delivered to Malaysia to be paraded as a trophy in their commitment to “investigate 1MDB” even before identifying the rightful owner of the vessel or seeking the consent of the United States.
Mahathir failed to heed the 48 hour notice Raggie gave him to prove that Equanimity was purchased using 1MDB money
Meanwhile, Malaysiakini published an infographic of the alleged money trail of ill-gotten proceeds from 1MDB that ended up in the purchase of the Equanimity, perpetuating the same previously-published allegations in The Edge and other PH-aligned news outlets, seemingly presenting it as the evidence of the link between the Equanimity and the theft of 1MDB funds.
The price of the vessel was alleged to be $250 million by the current government. An earlier report from 2 years ago on a super-yacht website places the price of the Equanimity at $160 million.
However, from this diagram, 1MDB money constituted only Tranche 1 of the payment for the Equanimity. Only $27 million out of the $160 million (or $250 million) of the yacht’s purchase price allegedly came from 1MDB. The source of this $27 million on the other hand can be traced (in the diagram) to $835 million of overseas investment funds paid to Tanore by 1MDB Global.
How, then, can 1MDB legally claim that the vessel belongs to them if funds allegedly misappropriated from them accounts for only 11-17% of the estimated total purchase price?
Furthermore, this payment (Tranche 1) is only 3.2% of the payments received by Tanore. At such a percentage, it could very well be a sales commission or facilitation commission for closing a deal between Tanore and 1MDB Global.
The DOJ on the other hand still has unfinished business with this yacht as it’s one of the assets that they need to investigate as part of their civil forfeiture proceedings. By right, it should be returned to US waters and placed under the custody of the US authorities for investigations to continue.
We also have to keep in mind that the DOJ is acting upon a Verified Complaint that was filed by Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang based on information received from Clare Rewcastle Brown the Edge’s chairman, Tong Kooi Ong. The both of them on the other hand derived these allegations from stolen PetroSaudi data that they had cheated off of Xavier Justo. This data was found by Thai and Singaporean authorities to have been manipulated, and Justo had also conveniently stated that he has no backups of the original data, which rendered his evidence unreliable and inadmissible to these authorities.
The US authorities have not been able to conclusively link the allegations in the verified complaints with the persons and companies accused, and investigations are still ongoing. And yet, allegations in the Verified Complaint are still being bandied about as if they’re the findings or outcomes of US investigations when these are merely allegations and accusations which have not been proven, nor investigated by the FBI.
Currently, the Equanimity has been arrested, with seizure procedures being undertaken. It’s been said that it will take 6-9 months to identify the owners of the yacht, which is necessary for a seizure under Admiralty law. For now, due to the allegation that this yacht is a component of a criminal offense, it is likely to be placed under a constructive trust.
Legal constructive trusts aside, not only does the next step in the admiralty court proceedings will involve tracing the actual sources of funding to definitively link the purchase of the Equanimity with funds derived from 1MDB (good luck with peeling back all the layerings), for actual truth and justice to prevail, they must also ascertain and trace the sources of all the other tranches for the payment of the Equanimity.
If it is found that there are other parties that were defrauded in the purchase of this super-yacht, these other parties must be notified by the admiralty court as well so that they can also stake a claim to it. Otherwise, it would be an extraordinary miscarriage of justice.
It’s even an outright theft.
Imagine, if you will, that someone who’s had business dealings in the past with a company notices that there’s a company car parked at the basement, an RM1 million Bentley. This person alleges that the Bentley was bought with money “stolen” from him because he believes that he was swindled by this company. He got wind that the company kept RM110,000 out of an RM3.3 billion project payment as commission for themselves and regards this amount as missing or stolen.
This person then proceeds to file a police report, and claims that the Bentley rightfully belongs to him because he was cheated by this company in the past. The company insists that the Bentley on the other hand was bought with funds unrelated to their past business dealings.
Nonetheless, the police decides to seize the Bentley before identifying the actual owner of the Bentley or what’s the actual source of funds that were used in its purchase, and the accuser, who supposedly “lost” RM110,000 (not because he actually lost it, but because he believes that the company used RM110,000 from his project payment to purchase the Bentley), will now proceed to forcibly remove the Bentley from the company’s premises and auction it off for RM500,000.
Does that sound like justice has been carried out or due process has been adhered to?
Giving people the truth and giving people a circus show to exaggerate your allegations are two different things. The new government and especially the new AG should cut out all the drama. Enough with this dog-and-pony show, you guys are raping the law worse than your predecessors.