Malaysia fails to link cash seized from ex-PM Najib residence to 1MDB

In a photo taken on May 17, 2018, Malaysian police raided three apartments in a posh Kuala Lumpur condominium owned by former prime minister Najib Razak’s family.
In a photo taken on May 17, 2018, Malaysian police raided three apartments in a posh Kuala Lumpur condominium owned by former prime minister Najib Razak’s family.PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia's government has failed to prove the RM114 million (S$36.69 million) cash seized from a residence linked to former Prime Minister Najib Razak was part of 1MDB's stolen funds, a judge ruled on Thursday (May 20).

The ruling follows the government's attempt to forfeit the money, which Najib had claimed was for election purposes.

The cash, in 26 different currencies, was part of the RM1.1 billion of items seized in 2018 amid investigations into the troubled state fund, 1MDB.

"Prosecution also failed to tie the funds to any criminal breach of trust case," Judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin said. He made the ruling in the civil forfeiture case at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

The decision comes as a Malaysian court is also hearing an appeal by Najib to overturn his conviction and 12-year jail sentence linked to the 1MDB scandal that brought down his government in 2018.

The seizure of items by the police on residences linked to Najib then was the single largest haul in Malaysian history.

The inventory included luxury goods such as a RM6.4 million diamond necklace, RM51.3 million worth of Hermes bags and hundreds of watches including Rolex timepieces.

The raids occurred a month after Najib's coalition lost the national elections, the first change in government since Malaysia achieved interdependence from Britain in 1957.