No United States authorities have made official protests over the handover of the superyacht Equanimity to Malaysian authorities on Aug 6, says lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.
According to Haniff, no protests have been lodged by the US government, the US Department of Justice, or the US Embassy against the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia, nor the California Central District Court.
Citing the DOJ’s court filing at the California court yesterday, he claimed it was proof that the US had no objections towards Indonesia’s move to release custody of the Equanimity to Malaysian authorities instead of the US.
He also accused financier Low Taek Jho of making false and misleading statements that claimed Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had been lying.
“Low is sternly urged to keep quiet and hide himself as much as he can, until the long arm of the law reaches him, to avoid making Malaysians even angrier through his malicious accusations through false statements towards Mahathir and the attorney-general, who are the authorities in this country,” he said in a statement today.
Haniff was responding to a statement by Low yesterday claiming that the DOJ statement was proof that Mahathir and Putrajaya had been lying about working with the US government to facilitate the transfer of the Equanimity.
Low had previously accused the governments of Malaysia and Indonesian of usurping the authority of Indonesian and US courts through the transfer, since there are still pending matters regarding the Equanimity in said courts.
However, Haniff pointed to paragraph 7 of DOJ’s latest court filing, which states that when the Equanimity was in transit for the transfer, yacht management company Wilson Yacht Management (WYM) asked the US government whether it should obey the instructions of Indonesian authorities, which had physical and legal custody over the yacht at the time.
The DOJ said that in accordance to its June 15 advice, the US government told WYM that it should instruct the crew to obey directives issued by the Indonesian government.
“Clearly, if the Indonesia government had agreed to release its custody of the Equanimity to the Malaysian government, and since the US government had told the Equanimity’s crew to obey the Indonesian government’s instructions, therefore the US government had no objections at all regarding Equanimity’s transfer from Indonesian to Malaysian custody,” he said.
For the record, the DOJ had said in its court filing that it was only necessary to maintain the ship’s safety and security, and insisted that the US government was not a party to the transfer.
It said, “In recent correspondence with the government, claimants have alleged that the US government co-orchestrated or assisted in the handover of the yacht from Indonesia to Malaysia.
“However, other than the actions outlined in Paragraph 7 above – both of which were necessary and appropriate to maintain the safety and security of the yacht – the US government took no part in Indonesia’s transferring the yacht to Malaysia.”
When asked about DOJ’s court filing yesterday, Mahathir told Malaysiakini that the US government was told in advance about Malaysia’s plans to take custody of the Equanimity, but did not object.
A copy of the DOJ filing yesterday as extracted from court records yesterday can be read below.