KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday (Dec 10) that he had purchased a RM466,330 (US$112,070) luxury watch for his wife to atone for his guilt in having to postpone a family vacation.
Testifying in his corruption trial, Najib said the Chanel watch was purchased on Dec 22, 2014 in Hawaii before he rushed home to deal with severe floods in Kelantan. The gift was picked by his wife Rosmah Mansor.
He said he would normally be with his family between 10 days to two weeks for the family vacation, but he had to return to Malaysia that year.
"My family was sad because I had to leave them and return to Malaysia immediately despite taking the year-end holiday with the intention of celebrating my wife’s birthday (on Dec 10) ... I then decided to buy something of her choice,” he said.
The High Court has ordered Najib to enter his defence regarding seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds and transferring the money into his own bank account.
The charges comprise three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of power in relation to the SRC funds. SRC is a former unit of sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Huge sums were stolen from 1MDB, allegedly by the ex-prime minister and his cronies, and spent on everything from high-end real estate to artwork.
Najib's coalition was ousted at the polls last year after six decades in power, partly due to public anger over the scandal.
He has since been arrested and hit with dozens of charges linked to the looting of the investment vehicle.
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JEWELLERY PURCHASED IN ITALY FOR "DIPLOMACY"
On Monday, Najib explained another purchase at a jewellery outlet store in Sardinia, Italy. He was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail that he purchased a RM3,282,734 gift on Aug 8, 2014 for the wife of the Qatari prime minister.
The gift was purchased during a private holiday with his family members. During the trip to Italy, he had met with his Qatari counterpart.
Najib said in court that the gift was to reciprocate the presents that the Sheikh and his wife had given to him and Rosmah during their visits to Malaysia.
He said he put the purchase on his personal account as he did not want to use public funds. He believed that he was entitled to spend money in his account as he saw fit.
He added that the gift was to benefit Malaysia through maintaining good ties with foreign leaders.
“Accordingly, I felt that the purchase which we made at De Grisogono (jewellery store) was one that was allowed for diplomatically,” he said, according to Malay Mail.