Malaysia ex-pm says seized items gifts, value in­flated

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

FORMER Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak said Thurs­day that a huge haul of jew­ellery and other valu­ables seized from prop­er­ties linked to him as part of a money-laun­der­ing probe were mostly gifts and the po­lice val­u­a­tion was likely grossly in­flated.

Po­lice es­ti­mate the to­tal value of cash, jew­ellery, watches and hand­bags to at least 1.1 bil­lion ring­git (K386.6 bil­lion/us$273 mil­lion), call­ing last month’s seizure the big­gest in Malaysia’s his­tory. Po­lice said the items com­prised 12,000 pieces of jew­ellery, 567 hand­bags, 423 watches and 234 sun­glasses. The jew­ellery in­cludes 2200 rings, 1400 neck­laces, 2100 bracelets, 2800 pairs of ear­rings, 1600 brooches and 14 tiaras.

Na­jib slammed the po­lice news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day and what he called over­val­u­a­tion of the goods, say­ing it ap­peared to be “po­lit­i­cal vengeance and po­lit­i­cal at­tack on my fam­ily.”

He said in a state­ment that most of the items were gifts from friends and for­eign dig­ni­taries dur­ing of­fi­cial vis­its and fam­ily events such as birthdays and an­niver­saries. Many of the items were in boxes la­belled with de­scrip­tion, pho­to­graphs, dates they were given and the iden­tity of the giver, he said.

For ex­am­ple, he said a 3.4 mil­lion ring­git Rolex Day­tona watch listed by po­lice as among the most ex­pen­sive items was a gift from a Mid­dle Eastern in­te­rior min­is­ter who vis­ited Malaysia in March.

Na­jib said po­lice val­u­a­tion based on cur­rent prices is “un­re­al­is­tic, likely to be grossly in­flated and will give a very dis­torted pic­ture as these items were re­ceived as gifts over a pe­riod that spans decades.”

Some oth­ers be­long to rel­a­tives and third par­ties, which have started the le­gal process to claim the items from po­lice, he said.

Al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion at the de­funct 1MDB state in­vest­ment fund that Na­jib set up led to his shock­ing de­feat in May 9 elec­tions and the end of the 60-year un­bro­ken rule of his coali­tion. Na­jib and his wife have been barred from leav­ing the coun­try and both grilled by anti-graft of­fi­cials. They have de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

Po­lice have raided 12 lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Na­jib’s fam­ily home and apart­ments at a high-end Kuala Lumpur con­do­minium, as part of the probe into a crim­i­nal breach of trust in­volv­ing the 1MDB fund. Po­lice have said they plan to call Na­jib and his wife Ros­mah Man­sor for ques­tion­ing soon.

Po­lice said among the hand­bags were 272 Hermes Birkins bags, valued at nearly US$13 mil­lion (K18.41 bil­lion), be­lieved to be­long to Ros­mah. She has been com­pared to former Philip­pine first lady Imelda Mar­cos, who had a mas­sive col­lec­tion of de­signer shoes and jew­ellery.

Na­jib set up the 1MDB fund when he took power in 2009, but it ac­cu­mu­lated bil­lions in debts. US in­ves­ti­ga­tors say Na­jib’s as­so­ciates stole and laun­dered $4.5 bil­lion from the fund from 2009 to 2014, some of which landed in Na­jib’s bank ac­count. They say $27.3 mil­lion was used to buy a rare di­a­mond neck­lace for Ros­mah.

– As­so­ci­ated Press

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.