KUALA LUMPUR: Up to RM1.1 billion (US$270 million) of cash and luxury items were seized from premises linked to former prime minister Najib Razak, Malaysian police said on Wednesday (Jun 27).
The raids were connected to investigations into the scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Chief of the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) Amar Singh said the value of all items seized from six premises linked to Najib in May was between RM900 million and RM 1.1 billion.
The official salary of Najib while in office was RM22,827 (US$5,670) a month.
Singh added that of this value, RM116 million is cash, with jewellery worth around RM442 million at material cost. The latter's street value is estimated to be between RM660 million and RM880 million.
Of the RM116 million in cash, there were 26 different currencies. Police authorities took three days to count the cash, with the help of 22 Bank Negara officers and six counting machines.
The breakdown, Singh said, was derived from items taken from six premises: The prime minister's official residence and office in Putrajaya, three units at Pavilion and from Najib's home at Jalan Langgak Duta in Kuala Lumpur.
Singh explained that the "bulk of items" came from an empty premises in Pavilion, which he referred to as "B45".
The place was empty save for the bags containing the valuable items and some tables. Singh said there were no fans and air-conditioning in the unit.
Twelve thousand pieces of jewellery were seized in the raids.
The jewellery seized comprises: 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings, 2,800 pairs of earrings, 2,100 bangles, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras, with the most expensive item a yellow-gold necklace with diamonds worth RM6.4 million (US$1.5 million).
Malaysian police said 567 handbags were seized, of which 272 were Hermes handbags. The value of the Hermes bags alone was RM51.3 million.
In total, there were more than 72 brands, including bags from Prada, Chanel, Judith Leiber and Kwanpen. A custom Bijan bag was also found.
Singh said that the remaining bags had yet to be appraised and authenticated.
When asked if authorities uncovered any "fake" bags, Singh replied that the police found expensive "good copies" of branded bags.
The number of watches seized was 423 from more than 100 brands - including Rolex and Chopard - valued at RM78 million.
Singh disclosed that the most expensive watch was a Rolex Paul Newman Daytona, valued at RM3.5 million. Three other Chopard watches were valued at RM2.5 million while a Richard Mille timepiece was appraised at RM1.6 million.
Also seized were 234 sunglasses from 34 brands worth RM374,000.
At a press conference, Singh said the police are verifying if some of the items seized are gifts and if so, from whom.
Last week, Najib said in an interview that the luxury items and designer handbags seized by police in May were mostly gifts to his wife and daughter.
"Appraising of value and investigations into the items were conducted from May 21 to Jun 25 - through Hari Raya," said Singh.
"Why did we take so long? The number of items seized from the raids was too big and we wanted to ensure the integrity of these items. The appraisers and experts could only provide the cost of the raw materials. The estimates do not include workmanship and ancillary costs."
He added: "This is the biggest seizure in the history of Malaysia."
He also said that the cash and jewellery were now with Bank Negara, before saying: "We should be calling Najib and (his wife) Rosmah soon."
New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has just started his second stint as premier at the age of 92, has reopened investigations into 1MDB which were shut down by Najib, and has vowed the former leader will be charged.
Since their election loss, Najib and Rosmah have been questioned by anti-graft investigators over allegations that money linked to the state fund ended up in Najib's bank accounts.
The US Justice Department, which is seeking to recover items allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB cash in America, estimates that US$4.5 billion was looted from the fund.