Malaysia's police say $38m seized in raid on Najib-linked apartments

Boxes containing a large number of luxury handbags as well as bags filled with jewellery, cash, watches and other valuables were carted away during police raids on former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak’s home and condo units linked to his family. PHOTO: ST FILE
Commercial crime chief Amar Singh said 37 other bags were also found containing jewellery and watches. The value of these goods have not been calculated yet. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police said RM114 million (S$38.4 million) in cash was seized from luxury apartments linked to Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak in operations conducted last week.

Commercial crime investigation department chief Amar Singh told reporters on Friday (March 25) that the cash, in 26 different currencies, was found stashed in 35 bags.

The raid at the Pavilion Residences in central Kuala Lumpur last Friday (May 18) had yielded 284 boxes of handbags, and 72 bags containing cash, jewellery and watches.

"Out of the 72 bags that were seized, 35 of them contained RM114 million in cash in 26 foreign currencies. There were also 37 bags containing watches and jewellery," said Datuk Seri Amar.

He said most of the cash was in Malaysian ringgit and Singapore dollar.

He also confirmed that most of the handbags seized were from luxury French brand Hermes.

"We are in discussion with the luxury brand to authenticate them... we will send pictures to Paris for their authentication and valuation," he said. Police are also in the midst of authenticating the seized watches and jewellery and getting estimates of their worth, he said.

Mr Amar said two of the apartments searched were occupied by Datuk Seri Najib's son Mohd Norashman and daughter Nooryana Najwa, while the third apartment was unoccupied.

The raids were part of police investigations into allegations of corruption and money-laundering surrounding troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Since May 18, the police have conducted searches at 12 premises, Mr Amar said, including at the three apartments and at Mr Najib's private residence in Taman Duta.

Dozens of luxury handbags, watches and RM500,000 cash were seized from the Taman Duta mansion.

Mr Najib has lodged a police report on the apartment raid, claiming the items seized were gifts from friends while the cash was part of donations meant for the election campaign of Barisan Nasional, the coalition he formerly led that was defeated in the May 9 polls.

He was first linked to the financial scandal at 1MDB after RM2.6 billion allegedly from the state fund was found in his personal accounts in 2015. He has said the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family and was in 2016 cleared of any wrongdoing by the Malaysian authorities.

The new Pakatan Harapan government has reopened investigations into 1MDB, with the country's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad vowing to recover billions of dollars allegedly misappropriated from the state fund.

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