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Superyacht linked to Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal goes up for auction

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KUALA LUMPUR A US$250 million (S$345 million) luxury yacht linked to a multi-billion dollar scandal at Malaysia's state fund 1MDB has gone up for auction, a government lawyer said on Monday, the first sale of a major asset seized by authorities.

The Equanimity is among US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought by fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, and his associates with funds taken from 1MDB, the US Department of Justice has said.

Malaysia and the US are investigating how billions of dollars went missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), with some of the money used to buy a private jet, Picasso paintings, jewellery, real estate and the superyacht.

A Malaysian court in August approved the sale of the 91m Cayman Islands-flagged Equanimity, which was impounded months earlier near Bali and handed over to Malaysia.

The yacht, which according to US court documents was bought by Low for US$250 million, has been appraised for the auction. But its estimated value will be disclosed only after the bidding process ends on Nov 28, said Mr Jeremy Joseph, a lawyer for 1MDB and the government.

"If the highest bid matches or exceeds the appraised value, then it can be accepted by the court," he added.

The proceeds will be held by the court for 90 days to allow time for any potential claimants to come forward, he said.- REUTERS