In raids over the past weeks, police have seized 114 million ringgit (US$28.6 million) in cash and more than 400 handbags. Experts were being brought in to value the jewellery, watches and other seized items.
1MDB is also the subject of money-laundering probes in at least six countries, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore.
Malaysia anti-graft agency questions ex-PM’s wife Rosmah Mansor about 1MDB money-laundering. Flanked by security guards and her lawyers, Rosmah Mansor stepped out of a silver Mercedes carrying a bright red handbag that appeared to be a model made by Italian luxury fashion brand Versace.
The wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was questioned Tuesday by the anti-graft agency over alleged theft and money-laundering involving the 1MDB state investment fund, as Najib’s lawyers said they had pulled out.
The spotlight is now on Rosmah Mansor after police last month raided two properties linked to Najib and his family as part of an investigation into his role in the 1MDB scandal - seizing bags of cash, jewellery and hundreds of designer handbags.
Rosmah, 66, is widely reviled in Malaysia for her reported luxurious tastes and imperious manner. She last month issued a statement lashing out at media coverage of the police raids, calling them a “premature public trial”.
Known for her love of luxury clothes and handbags, Rosmah arrived for questioning in a three-car convoy.
News site The Malaysian Insight reported that Puravalen, Abideen and other members of their legal team had walked out because they failed to reach common ground with Najib on several issues.
Abideen could not be reached immediately for comment.
The luxury-loving Rosmah is often compared with Imelda Marcos, who left behind more than a thousand pairs of shoes after her husband, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, was ousted in 1986.
Following her departure from the agency headquarters, her lawyers said anti-graft investigators had completed recording her statement after a session lasting over three hours during which she gave her “utmost cooperation”.
The nature of the questioning was not made public, however earlier reports said Rosmah was expected to give a statement on the suspicious transfer of about US$10.6 million into Najib’s personal bank account that had been traced to the former 1MDB unit SRC International.
Billions of dollars were allegedly stolen from the 1MDB fund - founded by Najib - in a sophisticated fraud that stretched from Singapore to Switzerland, with the money used to buy items ranging from Picasso artworks to high-end real estate.
Both Najib and the fund have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Rosmah spent nearly five hours in the building before leaving in a silver Mercedes-Benz.
“Our client will extend further cooperation as and when sought by the agency,” lawyer K. Kumaraendran told gathered media in a prepared statement.
Former prime minister Najib has seen a swift fall from grace since he was defeated by a reformist coalition led by his former mentor, Mahathir Mohamad, in elections last month.
Police load confiscated items into a truck in Kuala Lumpur, after a raid on a property linked to Najib Razak. File photo: AP
Voter anger at claims of corruption tied to Najib and a rise in living costs were among major factors in the shocking defeat of the ruling coalition, which had been in power for over six decades.
Najib himself was questioned by anti-graft officers twice last month. Both he and his wife have been banned from leaving the country.
Earlier on Tuesday, some lawyers representing Najib and Rosmah on the SRC case said they had quit.
M. Puravalen, a lawyer acting for Najib and Rosmah in connection with the SRC investigations, said he had “ceased acting” for Najib and Rosmah.
He said a second lawyer, Yusof Zainal Abideen, had also quit.
He denied reports that they quit because of disagreement over the 1MDB case but declined to elaborate.
Altantuya has returned with a vengeance, not only has she removed the power of Najib completely, she has prolonged the life of her would-be saviour, a 93 years old man called Mahathir. This old man is working and walking like a 39 years old. The spirit of Altantuya has obviously taken over the body and energy of Mahathir. Altantuya's seeking of justice knows no boundary. Until justice is done, Mahathir will never die or fall sick again. The end of Najib is getting nearer and nearer. Besides Altantuya, the ghosts of murdered banker Hussain Najadi and lawyer Kevin Morais is very much in the body of Tun Dr Mahathir.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police seized 52 branded bags, 10 luxury watches and cash in multiple currencies including RM537,000 (US$135,000) in a raid of former prime minister Najib Razak's private residence that began on late Wednesday (May 16), according to a police document sighted and verified by Channel NewsAsia.
Police believe there were "reasonable grounds to suspect that all such items are a matter of offence under the nation's Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001".
The bags seized include some made by Versace, Gucci and Oscar de la Renta with 15 Chanel boxes taken from the prayer area of the house. Watches taken include ones made by Rolex and Patek Philippe while £2,700 and 2,870,0000 Sri Lanka Rupee were also confiscated.
The police search of Najib's home went on for about 18 hours and amounted to "harassment", said his lawyer in a statement on Thursday.
In total, authorities have raided six premises as part of their investigations into Najib and state-investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), including the prime minister's office and the prime minister's official residence in Putrajaya as well as four private residences linked to the former leader.
On Friday morning, police seized another 284 boxes containing designer handbags as well as dozens of bags stuffed with cash and jewellery from luxury condominium units linked to Najib.
Mahathir had said there was sufficient evidence to investigate the multi-billion-dollar scandal at 1MDB, and vowed to take action against those who may have abetted or benefited from corruption at the fund.
At least six countries, including the United States and Switzerland, are investigating claims that US$4.5 billion was allegedly siphoned off from 1MDB.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing.
A former high ranking Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer has come forward to lodge reports against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak .
Datuk Abdul Razak Idris, former MACC investigations and intelligence director, lodged two reports at the graft busting agency on Monday morning: one alleging that Najib had used his position for gratification and the other for allegedly owning unexplained properties.
"I will also discuss with the officers here if I should lodge another report here or with the police under Section 217 and 218 of the Penal Code where certain public servants saved a person from punishment or property from forfeiture.
"The reason I am lodging the reports today is so that the MACC can take swift action," he told reporters before entering the MACC headquarters here to lodge his reports.
When asked why he decided to only lodge a report now, Abdul Razak claimed that it would have been of no use back then as no action would have been taken.
He added that it was also a "former boss" of his who urged him to lodge the reports but declined to name this person.
"Some are also worried about me for boldly coming out to lodge a report but it's alright.
"I'm already 69 years old. If I die, I die for the country," Abdul Razak said.
(KUALA LUMPUR, ST, 12 May 2018) - The flight manifest of a private jet scheduled to leave from an airport near Kuala Lumpur for Jakarta at 10am on Saturday (12 May 2018) names ousted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife as passengers, two sources and two media reports said. Officials close to Mr Najib, who lost a general election this week, were not immediately available for comment, Reuters reported. The jet was scheduled to fly to Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in the Indonesian capital at 10am local time, the sources and news reports said. A Kuala Lumpur airport source who spoke to Reuters confirmed the booking in the names of Mr Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor. Malaysiakini, a news portal, cited an unnamed source close to Mr Najib as saying that he would take a two-day break in Indonesia. When The Straits Times arrived at Subang Airport on Saturday morning, members of the public and dozens of journalists were gathering outside the airport after viral posts circulated on social media about Mr Najib and Ms Rosmah leaving Malaysia. Police were guarding the airport. However, when The Straits Times checked with an officer at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in east Jakarta on Saturday morning, he said there was no such incoming flight as reported in the media. In a Facebook post on Saturday morning, Mr Najib said he was taking a short break "to spend time with my family whom I have not seen enough of in recent years". He thanked Malaysians for the opportunity to lead the country and apologise for "any shortcomings and mistakes". "My Barisan Nasional colleagues and I are committed to respecting the will of the people and facilitating a smooth transfer of power. The best interests of Malaysia and its people will always be my first priority and I intend to continue serving them in whatever capacity I can. "I pray that after this divisive period, the country will unite. I apologise for any shortcomings and mistakes, and I thank you, the people, for the opportunity to lead our great nation. "It has been the honour of my lifetime to serve you and Malaysia," he wrote. According to Malaysiakini, Mr Najib and Ms Rosmah were blacklisted by the Immigration Department, based on a search on the department's Travel Status Enquiry System (SSPI). The database allows Malaysians to check if they are cleared to travel to East Malaysia or overseas. But Immigration Department director-general Mustafar Ali denied that the duo had been blacklisted. "Not blacklisted for now," he told Malaysiakini in a text message. He refused to elaborate. Hours after the Malaysiakini report was published, the restrictions on the couple were removed, the portal said. On Friday, a day after he was sworn in, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir vowed to investigate a multi-billion-dollar graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which was founded by Mr Najib. Mr Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing in connection with 1MDB. The Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition suffered a shocking defeat on Wednesday night in the country's 14th general election, winning only 79 seats in Parliament from 133 in 2013. Several Umno leaders have called for reform, hinting towards appointing a new party president during its internal elections, which would likely be held by year end. The party is constitutionally slated to hold its polls every three years, but this has been delayed by two years. "To return to the original Umno, we must undergo a major change within," Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said in a statement. He added that changes needed include "absolute honesty, outstanding courage and painful sacrifice". Calling for the "rebuilding of the party" and for Umno to return to its "original spirit", Mr Khairy finds his words echoed by Umno Youth leaders nationwide. Umno Youth from seven states have called on Mr Najib to step down from a post he has held since 2008, when he won uncontested at party elections.
Malaysia's opposition pulls off shocking election win
Mahathir Mohamad's alliance wins 113 seats in parliament, ending the 60-year reign of the ruling Barisan Nasional.
The opposition won 113 seats - one more than required for simple majority - and the BN has 79 in the 222-member parliament, according to official results announced on Thursday.
The election race was one of the most closely contested in Malaysia's history, with 92-year-old Mahathir coming out of retirement to take on his former protege, Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.
Mahathir called for the prime minister to be appointed immediately, stressing that Najib's role as an interim government in "now over".
"There has been some delays over the lack of understanding of the constitution, but we'd like to make it clear that there is an urgency here," he said at a press conference on Thursday.
"We need to form a government now, today," the 92-year-old added.
As the Pakatan Harapan or Alliance of Hope's win became clear, supporters took to social media and the streets of Malaysia's biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, to celebrate, with many waving flags of the opposition on the streets.
Al Jazeera’s Rob Mcbride, reporting from Kuala Lumpur, said the mood at a public gathering in the city turned to "euphoria" as "news began to sink in about what was happening".
'Rule of law'
A simple majority of 112 seats is required by a party or alliance to rule, a number Mahathir said his Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, secured to defeat Najib's ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.
Asked if he would take action against Najib over the financial scandal, Mahathir said he will not seek "revenge".
"We are seeking to restore the rule of law," Mahathir told reporters early Thursday.
There was no immediate comment from officials with BN.
Najib, who has ruled the Southeast Asian country for nearly 10 years, said he accepted the "verdict of the people" but called for calm as the country awaits the King's approval.
"The King will decide who will be made prime minister according to the constitution," Najib told reporters on Thursday.
"This [Barisan Nasional] party will respect whatever decision the King makes and I would like to urge the people of Malaysia to remain calm and place confidence in the King to make a decision."
The corruption allegations have dogged Najib for years and appeared to have soured Malaysian voters.
The US Justice Department says $4.5bn was looted from the 1MBD investment fund by associates of the prime minister between 2009 and 2014, including $700m that landed in Najib's bank account.
He denies any wrongdoing.
The Pakatan Harapan's win was a stunning triumph that almost no one had predicted.
Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert at John Cabot University in Rome, attributed the opposition's surprising gains to Mahathir.
"The person who has made this happen is Mahathir. He has been a significant game changer. He made people feel that a transition of power is possible," she said.
"This is a repudiation of Najib's government from all walks of life from the very rural northern states to the more industrial southern coast," she said.
The opposition was also sweeping state elections, including Johor state where the dominant Malay party in the Barisan Nasional was founded.
"Few Malaysians thought they would live to see this day," Malaysia Kini, a Malaysian news website, said in an editorial. "This is the first time the country has witnessed a change of government since independence from the British in 1957."
BN's rout was made possible by a "Malaysian tsunami", in which all major ethnic groups turned out to vote against the ruling coalition, it said.
"Nothing less than a historic political earthquake is under way in Malaysia right now," said John Sifton, Human Rights Watch's Asia advocacy director.
Mahathir turned against Najib in the wake of the financial scandal at 1MDB, calling his role in Najib's rise "the biggest mistake of my life".
The former ruler then teamed up with an alliance of parties that opposed him when he was in power.
That included opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim, his former deputy who was jailed for sodomy and corruption - charges Anwar maintains were politically motivated after he and Mahathir fell out in the late 1990s.
After claiming victory, Mahathir told reporters he will work on obtaining a royal pardon for Anwar, who is serving a five-year prison sentence.
"Once [Anwar] is pardoned, he will be eligible to stand as prime minister. But he still must stand for elections to be an MP," Mahathir was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.
Many Malaysian social media users praised Mahathir and thanked the people of Malaysia for the shock victory, while still others expressed disbelief at the results.
"This feels so surreal ... We've been so desperate for a transformation," wrote one Twitter user, Phoebe Shafinaz, while another user, Aminah Ibrahim, said she was in "tears of utter happiness".
Already we are clearly witnessing the nation being torn apart by the two forces, i.e. one that unrelenting denies any wrongdoing; and another force on the other end, ever determined to leave no stone unturned.
Between these two extremes we witness a whole lot of expose after expose in the foreign media pages and a whole host of segments of society rallying behind the two said forces.
Meanwhile, the 1MDB has already begun taking its toll as several nations have initiated investigations. Add to it also the personalities and huge business entities that have felt the blades of 1MDB strike. Some have been arrested; some have resigned; some have been transferred, etc to date.
At some point soon either the team that is supporting and those driving 1MDB win or the team that is determined to punish anyone and everyone in alliance with 1MDB rises in victory upon proving truth against lies.
Whichever the case ultimately may be, 1MDB would have by the very outcomes become the political slaughterhouse of Malaysia.
If the current prime minister, Najib Abdul Razak, gets to plough through and past this rising 1MDB debacle and the rising heaps of allegations, exposes and investigations, then all those who are against 1MDB would not be spared. Either some will be dealt the political death blow or silenced to kingdom come and shamed, of course.
If all the forces fast aligning are able to prove the mountain of allegations against 1MDB as truth beyond doubt, your bet is as good as mine, i.e. the Bugis team in all probability will see their political aspirations be slaughtered.
Meanwhile, what needs to be reckoned is that no media has gone to a slaughtering house because of its news coverage. That is the twist that will ultimately also seal the fate and future of a nation’s grandiose plans in the rush to generate unimagined wealth.
Indeed then Malaysia’s history will be painted with voluminous chapters about a sovereign wealth creation engine that also ended up as the slaughterhouse of the country’s political roadmap. Whether you lid the stories now with the Official Secrets Act (OSA) or not, the history is already being penned and will be read the world over.
How sad really, for once upon a time the country was branded as the celebrated and rising ‘Asian Tiger.
While Mr. Najib and other Malaysian officials have insisted that the money was a gift from an unidentified Saudi donor, the Justice Department said that it was stolen from a Malaysian government investment fund that Mr. Najib oversaw. Mr. Najib has said he never received any money from the fund.
The court filing, one of several complaints filed Wednesday in a federal money-laundering investigation, provides the first official public documentation of transactions that challenge Mr. Najib’s version of events in a scandal that has battered his government for the past year.
The revelations could undermine his credibility and give new ammunition to a movement to force him from office. However, he maintains firm control over his governing party and has successfully stifled opposition with the firing of critics from party posts, the closing of online news outlets and the criminal prosecution of social media detractors and political opponents.
Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. A spokesman said he had not changed his position that the hundreds of millions in his personal accounts came from an unidentified Saudi donor, not a government investment fund that he oversaw.
Mr. Najib, who has acknowledged receiving the money but said he broke no laws and took nothing for personal gain, told reporters on Thursday that his government would “fully cooperate” with the Justice Department action.
“Allow the process to take its course,” he said, “but I want to say categorically that we are serious about good governance.”
A spokesman for Mr. Najib, reached late Thursday, said that the prime minister had not changed his position that the money he received was a gift from a Saudi donor and that he gave most of it back because he did not need it.
From Manhattan condominiums to California mansions to gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn, shell companies are increasingly pervasive in the world of real estate. These articles explore the people behind the opaque deals.
The Justice Department complaint alleges in 136 pages of blow-by-blow detail that huge sums were diverted from the government fund, routed through bank accounts in various countries and then spent on high-end real estate, artwork, gambling and various luxury goods by Mr. Najib’s stepson, friends and associates.
The Justice Department filed a complaint on Wednesday in federal court in California to seize $1 billion dollars in assets said to be stolen from Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund. Here is the complete court filing.
The court filing seeks to recover more than $1 billion in assets bought with money that prosecutors say was stolen from the fund, known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB.
Those assets, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said Wednesday, “are just a portion of the more than $3 billion that was stolen from 1MDB and laundered through American financial institutions in violation of United States law.”
The case, she said, should be seen as a sign of the country’s “firm commitment to fighting international corruption” and the department’s determination “to protect the American financial system from being used as a conduit for corruption.”
The United States is among several governments, including Malaysia, Singapore and Switzerland, that have investigated 1MDB. The inquiries began last year after an investigative report in The New York Times traced the purchases of about $150 million in residential properties and artwork in the United States to relatives or associates of Mr. Najib.
While the federal complaint does not identify Mr. Najib by name, it cites $731 million in funds that came from 1MDB that were deposited into accounts belonging to a government official identified as “Malaysian Official 1.”
However, Mr. Najib is clearly recognizable in the descriptions and actions attributed to that official.
Large transactions by “Malaysian Official 1” described in the complaint are identical to those previously acknowledged by Mr. Najib. The complaint describes the official’s role in managing the fund, which matches Mr. Najib’s role. And it says “Malaysian Official 1” is a relative of Riza Aziz, Mr. Najib’s stepson.
A person with knowledge of the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed that “Malaysian Official 1” was Mr. Najib.
The complaint does name Mr. Aziz, and a family friend, Jho Low, who played a key role in establishing the fund. Both are cited as possessing assets bought with money stolen from 1MDB.
Mr. Najib’s advisers have said Mr. Najib received about $1 billion in 2013, most of it donations from a member of the Saudi royal family to help him fight a tough election campaign that year.
That explanation of a Saudi gift was repeated by Mr. Najib’s attorney general, Mohamed Apandi Ali, who closed a government investigation into the money in January saying that he had found no evidence of wrongdoing.
On Thursday, Mr. Apandi issued a statement asserting that no investigation had found evidence that 1MDB funds had been misappropriated. He said he had “strong concerns at the insinuations and allegations” against Mr. Najib in the Justice Department complaint.
The Saudi gift was also confirmed by Saudi Arabia.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in April that Mr. Najib had received a “genuine donation” from a Saudi donor. He did not specify the amount or provide any details.
A Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman did not respond Friday to requests for comment.
The Justice Department complaint mentions no such gift.
The complaint says that $681 million transferred to Mr. Najib in 2013 came from a Singapore bank account held in the name of Tanore Finance Corporation. It says the money originated from $3 billion in bonds underwritten for 1MDB by Goldman Sachs.
The Singapore account was controlled by Tan Kim Loong, also known as Eric Tan, an associate of Mr. Low, the complaint says.
Four months after receiving the $681 million, Mr. Najib transferred $620 million back to the same Tanore account, according to the complaint.
The complaint offers no explanation for why the prime minister received the money, held it for four months, then returned part of it. It is also unclear what happened to the $61 million he kept, although advisers have said he needed money for parliamentary elections that year.
Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney general, announcing the filing of complaints seeking more than $1 billion in assets bought with money prosecutors say was stolen from a Malaysian government investment fund.
Mr. Low and Mr. Tan used money from the Tanore account to buy expensive artwork and an interest in the Park Lane Hotel, a luxury hotel overlooking Central Park in Manhattan, the complaint says.
The complaint also says that “Malaysian Official 1” received $20 million in stolen 1MDB funds in 2011. The money, the first he received from the fund, was transferred from an account held in the name of a Saudi prince, the complaint says. It does not identify the prince.
He received $30 million in 1MDB money in 2012 from a separate account, the complaint says.
The prime minister’s office did not respond to inquiries about those two deposits.
The two transactions bring to $731 million the amount of money Mr. Najib is said to have received from the government fund he oversaw.
Mr. Najib created 1MDB in 2009 to promote Malaysia’s economic development. He oversaw the fund as chairman of its advisory board, a position he recently relinquished, and as finance minister, a position he still holds. The fund is wholly owned by the Finance Ministry.
The fund’s goal was “improving the well-being of the Malaysian people,” Ms. Lynch said in announcing the civil action. “But unfortunately, sadly, tragically, a number of corrupt 1MDB officials treated this public trust as a personal bank account.”
The F.B.I. and the Internal Revenue Service took part in the investigation and relied in part on bank transfer data, 1MDB memos and internal emails. Special Agent Darryl Wegner, chief of the F.B.I.’s International Corruption Unit, said that leaders of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission showed “tremendous courage” in pursuing the investigation.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation was shut down by Malaysia’s attorney general.
In Washington, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that President Obama had discussed the scandal with Mr. Najib during a visit to Malaysia last fall.
“The president reiterated how important it is, particularly for a fast-growing country like Malaysia, to be transparent, to demonstrate a commitment to fair play and good government and a business climate that will allow that country’s economy to continue to succeed,” Mr. Earnest said.