The Equanimity, a superyacht linked to 1MDB and businessperson Low Taek Jho, will be handed over to Malaysian authorities by next week, Indonesian police said today.
Daniel Silitonga, the deputy director of economic and special crimes in the republic's Central Police Department, told Malaysiakini that they received the instruction to hand over the yacht about two weeks ago.
"Maybe on Monday or Tuesday," he said when asked about the exact handover date. “The yacht will be handed over at the border between Indonesia and Malaysia’s waters."
Silitonga added that the yacht, which was previously impounded at Bali's Benoa Bay, is currently in the waters close to Singapore and the Indonesian island of Batam.
Asked whether the handover decision was reached during a recent meeting between Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the officer said: "Maybe that was one of the agendas discussed."
Former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali had previously pointed out that the then-BN government would not claim the Equanimity from Indonesian authorities as it did not own the vessel.
No more dealings
Meanwhile, Silitonga said that once the handover process has been completed, Indonesian authorities will no longer have any dealings with the US$250 million yacht.
"We are tired," he quipped.
Indonesian police had previously maintained that it was only acting based on a request from US authorities probing the yacht in connection with the US Department of Justice's asset forfeiture suits against 1MDB.
On Feb 28, Indonesian authorities boarded and seized the vessel at the DOJ’s request.
Since then, the Equanimity's registered owner had attempted to challenge the seizure on procedural grounds, and a case was also filed in the US courts to determine its ownership.
Although the yacht’s registered owner is the company Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd, DOJ contended that it is beneficially owned by Penang-born Low through a series of intermediaries, and that the yacht was purchased using 1MDB funds.
1MDB has denied its money was misappropriated, while Low claims that allegations against him are politically motivated.
'New captain and crew aboard'
Meanwhile, sources told Malaysiakini that a new captain and crew are now on board the Equanimity, ahead of its handover to Malaysian authorities.
"The ship has a new captain and a new set of crew since about two weeks ago. The old captain and crew have gone home," said a source close to the investigation.
The Cayman Islands-registered vessel was previously manned by 34 crew members and led by South African captain Rolf Sieboldt-Berry.
In its official formal request for mutual legal assistance (MLA) to Indonesia to help seize the Equanimity, the DOJ contended that superyacht’s crew could not be trusted, and sought protective custody of the vessel.
The DOJ planned to sail the superyacht to US waters with a government-hired crew to facilitate a sale in the North American market.