Treasure trove seized from ex-Malaysia PM worth up to $273M
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A vast trove of items seized in raids on properties linked to Malaysia's scandal-mired former leader, including cash, jewelry and luxury handbags, are worth up to $273 million, police said Wednesday, June 27.
The searches, part of investigations into scandal-hit sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, netted 12,000 pieces of jewelry, bags containing almost $30 million in cash across 26 different currencies, more than 400 watches worth $19.3 million, and other high-end designer goods.
"I think this is the biggest seizure in Malaysian history," said Amar Singh, the police's head of commercial crime investigations, after officials completed the mammoth task of counting up all the items they uncovered in raids around Kuala Lumpur last month.
He said the items were worth between 910 million ringgit ($225 million) and 1.1 billion ringgit ($273 million).
The official salary of Najib Razak, the former premier, while in office was 22,827 ringgit ($5,670) a month.
Allegations of massive corruption were a major factor behind last month's shock election loss of Najib's long-ruling coalition to a reformist alliance headed by Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib and his cronies were accused of plundering billions of dollars from 1MDB to buy everything from US real estate to artworks. Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.
His luxury-loving wife Rosmah Mansor became a lightning rod for public anger due to her vast collection of handbags and jewels, and her reported love of overseas shopping trips.
The mind-boggling collection of luxury items listed by police will increase public anger at the former first couple, whose spendthrift ways came to symbolize the decadence and rot in the Barisan Nasional coalition which had ruled the country uninterrupted since independence from Britain in 1957.
The items were seized in raids on 6 premises linked to Najib, including luxury apartments in Kuala Lumpur and his main residence in an upmarket part of the city.
The huge collection of jewelry included 1,400 necklaces and 2,200 rings. The most expensive item of jewelry was a necklace, which was estimated to be worth 6.4 million ringgit ($1.5 million) Amar said.
A total of 567 handbags were also seized, including 272 Hermes bags, worth 51.3 million ringgit, police said, adding that the values of the other handbags were still being calculated.
A total of 423 watches worth a total of 78 million ringgit were also discovered, along with 234 pairs of sunglasses.
New Prime Minister Mahathir, 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 Najib's bank accounts. – Rappler.com
We keep you informed because you matter
We tell you the stories that matter. We ask, we probe, we explain.
But as we strive to do all this and speak truth to power, we face constant threats to our independence.
Help us make a difference through free and fearless journalism. With your help, you enable us to keep providing you with our brand of compelling and investigative work.
Joining Rappler PLUS allows us to build communities of action with you. PLUS members will receive our editorial newsletters and industry reports, get to join exclusive online conversations with our award-winning journalists, and be part of our monthly events.
Make your move now. Join Rappler PLUS.