KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak has pushed back against the valution given by police that the jewellery, handbags, watches and luxury sunglasses along with millions of dollars found in his possession were worth between RM900 million (S$304 million) and RM1.1 billion.
He told Malaysiakini news site in an interview on Wednesday (June 27) that both he and his wife Rosmah Mansor "have been gifted with a lot of items by foreign leaders as well as personal friends" due to his position as prime minister. He also previously served in other Cabinet positions for long years.
Datuk Seri Najib said the valuation of these items, particularly jewellery, is "subjective and unrealistic".
The items were seized by police in raids on six premises linked to him including three condominium units and his family bungalow.
Among the items seized were cash totalling RM116.7 million in 26 different currencies.
Police said out of the 72 large luggage bags seized, 25 contained jewellery such as diamonds, bangles and earrings.
Among them were 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings, 2,100 bangles, 2,800 pairs of earrings, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras.
Mr Najib's response: "It depends on the source of the stones, it depends when they were gifted or when they were purchased. Valuation can tend to differ.
"So let us not get too excited about it. Let us look at the items, every single item, and we hope to have a chance to examine these items."
He said he has not been provided with the detailed list of the items seized during the raids that started a week after his Barisan Nasional coalition were voted out of power in a shocking general election defeat.
Police had conducted raids on his family home in Taman Duta and three condominium units at Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur, and two bungalows in Putrajaya - an unused house and the Prime Minister's official residence.
Mr Najib said he was not aware of the extent of his wife's jewellery collection, just like any other husband.
"What I do know is that over the years as head of the government, we have been gifted with a lot of items by foreign leaders as well as personal friends and I do know that under the law it is not illegal to receive gifts. These gifts were accumulated over decades," he told Malaysiakini.
"For example, Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) admitted to receiving 40 horses from his friends and foreign leaders, and he openly uses a lot of corporate jets from his friends so it is not illegal to receive gifts," he added.
Prior to becoming Malaysia's prime minister in 2009, Mr Najib was deputy prime minister and also served in various ministerial positions under Tun Dr Mahathir and former premier Abdullah Badawi.