PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Hours after Malaysia's anti-graft agency raided his houses, seizing cash and watches, Umno Supreme Council member Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim dropped a clanger, saying most of the "luxury watches" seized are fake.
The Member of Parliament for the town of Baling in Kedah said that 14 of the watches, which included brands such as Rolex, were "underwater" pieces of "triple A" grade, a name given to better quality imitation goods sold in downtown Kuala Lumpur and the country's night markets.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Tuesday (May 22) raided at least three premises linked to Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez, including his residence in Subang in Selangor and his home and office in Baling.
Sources familiar with the ongoing investigations said the raid was an MACC operation that was assisted by its Perlis office.
The raiding team seized around RM500,000 (S$168,396) in Malaysian currency and another RM400,000 in other currencies, including US dollars, British pounds, euros, rupiah, Maldivian rufiyaa and Saudi riyal.
Also seized were 20 watches and several pieces of jewellery.
Mr Abdul Azeez said: "I could not produce the certificates for most of the watches as many are fakes. I bought them because they look nice and I shared them with my son.
"Of course, a few pieces are genuine. I have been working for over 30 years, of course I can afford to buy a few real watches."
As for the cash seized, Mr Abdul Azeez said the money was withdrawn from the Baling Umno account on Monday and was meant to be used for breaking fast events for the month and expenses for scheduled Umno meetings.
The foreign denominations, he said, were collected during his trips around the world, especially on humanitarian missions.
"Part of the currencies were also meant for me to convert as I'm heading to Gaza on a humanitarian assistance programme, something which I have planned more than a month ago," he said.
"The money is from Kelab Putera 1Malaysia (KP1M)," said the outgoing chairman of the Lembaga Tabung Haji pilgrimage fund.
KP1M is a unity and humanitarian non-governmental organisation of which Mr Abdul Azeez is president.
Mr Abdul Azeez revealed on Wednesday that he had tendered his resignation as the Lembaga Tabung Haji chairman, ahead of his contract term that was supposed to end in July next year.
He said the resignation letter has been sent to Lembaga Tabung Haji while the other, addressed to the Prime Minister and the minister in charge of the pilgrim fund was still with his legal team.
Mr Abdul Azeez said RM100,000 was seized from his Baling house and RM400,000 from his house in Subang.
"It took them quite a while to count the money as most of it was already in envelopes which were meant to be distributed to the people during the buka puasa events," he said, referring to the breaking of fast events during Ramadan.
"They also took seven pieces of my wife's jewellery which I think is worth around RM50,000 to RM70,000," he said.
"I don't think the word 'raid' is really accurate. It was more of a visit and the officers were really professional, nice and even respected the time for breaking fast and joined us for prayers," Mr Abdul Azeez said.
"I'm an MP. Of course I will never run away. I am ready to give my fullest cooperation to the authorities," he said.
Asked about MACC Chief Commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull's revelations of an "MP from the north" known as "Cash King" who tried to ask the MACC to stop the investigations into 1Malaysia Development Berhad and SRC International, Mr Abdul Azeez said it could be anyone.
"Northern MPs can be anyone from Perak, Kedah, Perlis or Penang. As long as my name is not mentioned specifically, I will not respond," he said.