Malaysia to sell items seized in Najib-linked premises in 1MDB probe

Malaysia to sell items seized in Najib-linked premises in 1MDB probe

SINGAPORE: The Malaysian government will sell items seized from premises linked to former Prime Minister Najib Razak in a probe related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday (Jun 29).

During the raid, more than 10,000 pieces of jewellery and luxury items like Hermes bags were seized. The haul is estimated to be worth up to RM1.1 billion (US$270 million).

Despite the allegations that the haul is linked to the 1MBD scandal, Mr Najib has insisted that most of the items seized were gifts given to his wife and daughter and have nothing to do with 1MDB.

Najib seized items vertical graphic

In the interview, Mr Lim said that they aimed to "monetise" the stash, but cautioned that the amount is "nothing compared to the amount that has been robbed from the state".

He added that he was "shocked beyond belief" to realise that Mr Najib had RM2.6 billion ringgit (US$644 million) in his personal bank account.

The former prime minister had previously denied this saying that the large amount of money transferred into his personal bank account was a donation from Saudi Arabia, and not as US lawsuits have alleged - misappropriated funds from 1MDB.

US prosecutors further alleged that more than US$4.5 billion of 1MDB funds were laundered through a complex web of transactions and shell companies. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed several lawsuits to claim about US$1.7 billion in assets believed to have been stolen from 1MDB.

As Mr Najib continues to be embroiled in the 1MBD scandal, Mr Lim said that had Mr Najib's political coalition won one more term in the recent general election, it would have "put Malaysia into a deeper black hole".

"Try to look at the glass half full, not half empty. Imagine if they had won another term, the glass would be empty, at least it is now half full. 

"We can still do something about it, but if we wait for another term, nothing we do would help, so the 'glass half full' will allow us to rehabilitate our finances, to recuperate so that we can be reintegrated, to be a dynamic economy that Malaysia deserves to be," said Mr Lim.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that Mr Najib will be charged in court soon, and that the authorities are investigating and gathering evidence on how billions of dollars went missing from 1MDB.

Other key figures involved in the 1MBD scandal include Mr Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor and Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, widely known as Jho Low.

The Wall Street Journal had reported that several people who know Rosmah said her "pursuit of the trappings of wealth played a crucial part in pushing Najib’s administration deeper into graft, ultimately leading to the government’s downfall". 

She has denied this in a statement issued by her lawyers.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also said earlier in June that Malaysian authorities have sufficient information that Jho Low, is among the main criminals involved in the 1MBD saga.

Source: Agencies/aa(hm)