$275 million worth of cash, jewellery, handbags, watches seized by Malaysia police in Razak probe

423 watches worth $19m, 234 pairs of sunglassesamong items valued at $275 million seized from properties linked to former PM Najib Razak

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police said on Wednesday the total value of jewellery, handbags, watches and other items seized from premises linked to former prime minister Najib Razak totaled nearly $275 million.


Authorities are investigating Najib as part of their probe into how billions of dollars went missing from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which was founded by the former premier.

Since unexpectedly losing a general election to Mahathir Mohammad in May, Najib has been barred from leaving the country, questioned by the anti-graft agency and has had his personal and family houses searched as part of the 1MDB probe.

Amar Singh, head of the police commercial crime division, told a news conference that the retail cost of all the items seized from six properties linked to Najib totaled 900 million ringgit to 1.1 billion ringgit ($224 million-$273 million).

“We couldn’t do the counting at the premises because the numbers were too huge,” Singh said, adding that the seizures were the biggest in Malaysian history.

It took three days, six cash counting machines and 22 officials from the central bank to count the cash found at the premises, he said, adding the cash totaled 116.7 million ringgit.

Jewelry accounted for the biggest portion of the seizure — 12,000 pieces of jewelry that Singh said would be valued at 660 million ($163 million) to 880 million ringgit $218.4 million) at retail prices.

The single most expensive item was a diamond necklace with yellow gold – worth 6.4 million ringgit at cost price, he said.

Authorities are yet to establish who the owners of the seized items are, Singh said, adding that Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor would “soon” be called in for questioning.

Singh also said the police seized a total of 567 handbags in 37 different brands. The Hermes bags alone were worth 51.3 million ($12.7 million) ringgit, he said.

The police also found 423 watches worth 78 million ringgit ($19 million) and 234 pairs of sunglasses.

Mahathir, in an interview with Reuters last week, said Najib was fully responsible for the 1MDB scandal and that authorities have “an almost perfect case” against the former leader.

Najib, who led the country for almost a decade, has consistently denied any wrongdoing, having explained three years ago that the nearly $700 million transferred into his account had been a donation from an unnamed Saudi royal.

The US Department of Justice has said the money came from 1MDB, and that a total of $4.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund.

Speaking to Reuters exclusively last week, Najib said he shouldn’t be blamed for the alleged stealing from 1MDB, and declared he knew nothing about the money from the state fund appearing in his bank account. 

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