A court in Jakarta has ruled that a $US330 million superyacht and its crew, which includes three Australians, should be allowed to leave Indonesian waters.
The yacht Equanimity and its crew are at the centre of an international corruption scandal. The vessel has been detained off Bali for six weeks after US investigators asked their counterparts in Indonesia to seize the vessel.
The US Department of Justice says the 90-metre yacht was purchased using funds stolen from Malaysia’s 1MDB investment fund.
The yacht is owned by Malaysian banker Jho Low, who is an associate of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak. US investigators claim that almost $US1 billion stolen from the 1MDB fund was deposited into accounts controlled by Mr Najib.
Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing.
Lawyers representing the owners of Equanimity argued in South Jakarta District Court that the FBI and Indonesian police did not follow proper procedures in impounding the vessel.
In South Jakarta, District Court Judge Ratmoho ordered that the impounding of the yacht be cancelled and the boat be returned to its owners.
Lawyers argue charges related to 1MDB are not proven so the assets cannot be siezed. (Reuters: Antara Foto/Wira Suryantala)
Lawyers for the vessel owners had asked that costs be awarded but Judge Ratmoho declined to make that order.
More than 30 crew have been stranded in Indonesia since the yacht was impounded.
Three Australians — chief stewardess Jessica Blight, stewardess Bonnie Maroney and deckhand Samuel Ashton — were among those being held by Indonesian immigration officials.
After Tuesday’s ruling they are now free to leave Indonesia, although there is a possibility that they may stay longer while appeals are heard.
The yacht’s captain also remains under investigation for allegedly violating maritime law for turning off the vessel’s transponder while in Indonesian waters.