Malaysia says seized items in ex-premier probe valued at €234 million



A treasure trove of cash, jewelry, handbags and watches seized in raids last month on properties linked to Malaysia’s scandal-plagued former prime minister are worth up to 1.1 billion ringgit ($273.3 million/€234,3 million), anti-corruption police said on Wednesday.

It took more than 150 officers and experts nearly a month to assess the value of the items seized in the mid-May raids on premises linked to former premier Najib Razak because the “numbers were too huge,” said Amar Singh, the head of the police commercial crime division.

Read more: Patriotism or political stunt: mixed reactions to Malaysia’s ‘Hope Fund’ 

The items seized include:

  • Cash in 26 currencies worth around €25 million.
  • 12,000 items of jewelry with an estimated retail value of €140-187 million.
  • Jewelry items included 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings, 2,100 bangles, 2,800 pairs of earrings, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras.
  • 567 luxury handbags from 37 different brands.
  • Police have not valued all the luxury handbags, but the Hermes bags alone had a retail estimate of around €11 million. 
  • 423 watches worth an estimated €17 million.
  • 234 pairs of sunglasses an estimated €80,000.
    Malaysia PK Bei einer Razzia beschlagnahmte Güter (Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

    Malaysian authorities display a photo of jewelry seized from a raid during a news conference on June 27.

Billions missing

New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reopened an investigation into Najib and associates at state fund 1MDB after he spearheaded a four-party alliance against the long-running Barisan Nasional coalition in May 8 elections.

Read more: Malaysia election: People were ‘disgusted with government’s corruption’

Mahathir said earlier this month that prosecutors had “an almost perfect case” against Najib on charges of embezzlement, misappropriation and bribery linked to state fund 1MDB.

Six foreign countries are also investigating the former prime minister and his associates at 1MDB.  US investigators say at least at least $4.5 billion of the fund’s assets were stolen and laundered.

A previous investigation into fraud at 1MDB was squashed when Najib was prime minister.

Nearly $700 million had appeared in Najib’s bank account, but the former premier claims he didn’t know it was there and that it had been a donation from Saudi Arabia.

Najib, who established 1MDB in 2009, denies any wrongdoing.  He and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been banned from leaving the country pending an investigation.

Rosmah was notorious for expensive foreign shopping trips that drew the ire of Malaysians.

In an interview with news agency Reuters this month, Najib claimed that many of the handbags and other luxury items were gifts to his daughter and wife and had nothing to do with 1MDB.

cw/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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