Items from raids at Najib-linked premises valued at up to $372m

Malaysia's Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Amar Singh Ishar Singh showing a photo of some of the items seized, at a Kuala Lumpur news conference yesterday.
Malaysia's Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Amar Singh Ishar Singh showing a photo of some of the items seized, at a Kuala Lumpur news conference yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Cash, jewellery and other luxury products seized by Malaysian police as part of 1MDB probe

Many Malaysians were jolted yesterday by the police announcement that cash, jewellery, handbags, watches and luxury sunglasses seized from six premises linked to ousted premier Najib Razak were valued at between RM900 million and RM1.1 billion (S$305 million and S$372 million) - the biggest seizure made in the country's history.

The seizures were mostly made last month as part of investigations involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Amar Singh Ishar Singh told a news conference yesterday that the cash seized from 35 bags amounted to RM116.7 million in 26 currencies.

There were also 72 large luggage bags seized, 25 of them containing diamonds, bangles and earrings.

"About 12,000 items of jewellery were seized, worth RM440 million, without taking into account workmanship costs. Among them were 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings, 2,100 bangles, 2,800 pairs of earrings, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras," said Datuk Seri Amar.

The market value of these items would be between 50 per cent and 100 per cent more, or an estimated RM660 million to RM880 million, he said.

"We took 16 days to count," added Mr Amar, who said the most expensive necklace was a RM6.4 million gold and diamond piece.

Not all the 567 luxury handbags seized have been valued by the police. One of them is a custom-made handbag from Los Angeles-based House of Bijan.

According to the Huffington Post, the brand has dressed every American president since Mr Ronald Reagan, except current President Donald Trump. Clients are seen by appointment only.

The police had, from May 16 - a week after the May 9 polls that toppled Datuk Seri Najib's coalition - searched at least six premises linked to him in its probe into the 1MDB scandal.

 
 
 
 

Mr Najib told Reuters last week that the public seizure of handbags and other luxury items has created a negative perception, but that most of them were gifts to his wife Rosmah Mansor and daughter Nooryana Najwa, and had nothing to do with 1MDB.

Mr Amar said that the couple's alleged "gift givers" will be called in as part of the investigation.

Comments posted by Malaysians on the Facebook sites of news organisations were mostly negative towards the former first family.

Wrote one Mitchell Neoh about the value of the items seized: "If we use the money to support and educate our orphanage homes and ultra-poor Malaysians, we can slowly eradicate poverty and improve the lives of thousands of Malaysians."

Netizen Rozilawati Abu said: "I wish I could meet the giver of the gifts... must be very generous, huh?"

When asked for his comments by reporters in Kelantan yesterday, Parti Islam SeMalaysia vice-president Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said: "We would be shocked if (the items are) indeed owned by an individual."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2018, with the headline 'Items from raids at Najib-linked premises valued at up to $372m'. Print Edition | Subscribe