Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysia PM Najib, pleads not guilty to 17 counts of money laundering, tax evasion

Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysia PM Najib, pleads not guilty to 17 counts of money laundering, tax evasion

Rosmah Mansor arrives in court
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's wife Rosmah Mansor arrives in court on Thursday (Oct 4). 

KUALA LUMPUR: Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak, was charged on Thursday (Oct 4) morning with 17 offences, including receiving proceeds of illegal activities as well as failure to declare income tax.

The charges related to money laundering involved about RM7 million (US$1.7 million), Bernama news agency reported.

The 66-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges at a court complex where her husband Najib Razak was also making a separate appearance in connection with the alleged plunder of state funds.

Bail has been set at RM2 million with RM500,000 to be paid on Thursday and the rest due by Oct 11. Her case will be heard again on Nov 8.

READ: Rosmah tampered with witness, requested statement in her favour, says prosecution

The prosecution earlier argued for bail to be set at RM10 million on condition that her passport is surrendered and she is not allowed to meet any of the prosecution's witnesses.

This after lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram told the court that Rosmah had "approached a witness with a request to make a statement in her favour".

Rosmah's lawyers argued for bail to be instead set at RM250,000 citing the surrender of her passport as the reason for a lower amount. They also argued that in Najib's case, where RM2.6 billion was involved, bail was set at RM3.5 million.

The money laundering charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years in jail and a fine of not less than five times the value of the proceeds of any illegal transfers, or RM5 million, whichever is higher.

As she left the courtroom, Rosmah waved to about 30 supporters and said “I love you” to them.

READ: Legal proceedings against Rosmah done according to law, says PM Mahathir

Rosmah spent a night in detention after she was arrested on Wednesday by the country's anti-graft agency and was brought to the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex in Jalan Duta at around 8.30am.

Her arrest follows three rounds of questioning by anti-graft officials over state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), from which US authorities say more than US$4.5 billion was misappropriated.

Last Wednesday, she was questioned for nearly 13 hours

Her husband is also in court for a pre-trial hearing of charges related to 1MDB filed against him.

Najib, whose coalition suffered a stunning election defeat in May, faces 32 charges ranging from money laundering to abuse of power and criminal breach of trust in the effort to uncover how billions of dollars went missing from 1MDB.​​​​​​​

READ: 1MDB scandal – a timeline

The 65-year-old former leader has denied any wrongdoing following revelations that hundreds of millions of dollars ended up in his personal bank accounts.

Najib and Rosmah have both been barred from leaving the country and their home and other properties linked to them have been searched by the police as part of the 1MDB investigations.

The haul seized from their homes - Malaysia's biggest and worth up to US$275 million - included 567 handbags and 423 watches. A total of 12,000 pieces of jewellery were also seized, including 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings, 2,800 pairs of earrings and 14 tiaras.

Najib has said most of the items seized from his houses were gifts given to his wife and daughter and had nothing to do with 1MDB.

Additional reporting by Channel NewsAsia correspondent Sumisha Naidu.

Source: Agencies/CNA/ad(mn)