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Malaysia 1MDB scandal

Najib Razak summoned by anti-graft agency after raids claim more than 350 designer bags, many filled with cash and jewellery

Police carried out simultaneous searches at six premises – Najib’s office and official residence in the administrative capital of Putrajaya, the family mansion in Kuala Lumpur where Najib lives, and three other private residences

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 11:13am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 11:36pm

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been summoned by the anti-graft agency as part of a probe into troubled state fund 1MDB, sources said on Friday, after police launched predawn raids on premises linked to Najib and confiscated jewellery, luxury handbags and cash.

Police have been searching Najib’s home and other places as part of an investigation into scandal-plagued 1MDB, an extraordinary turn of events that few would have predicted before his shock defeat in the May 9 general election.

The embattled former premier is to meet Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers on Tuesday.

Three commission sources confirmed that a notice had been served on Najib to give his statement in relation to their probe on SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

“It has been done,” one source said when asked if the notice had been delivered to Najib at his family home.

A member of a panel that reviewed the MACC’s files on 1MDB found that the commission had evidence that Najib received US$10.5 million from SRC International.

Najib’s lawyer declined to comment on the MACC summons. Najib has denied wrongdoing.

The investigations started barely a week after Najib’s ruling coalition suffered a spectacular loss to an opposition bloc led by his former mentor, Mahathir Mohamad, 92, the first change of government since Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957.

Najib Razak quits as leader of his coalition and party after he and his wife Rosmah Mansor ‘blacklisted’ from leaving the country

Mahathir on Friday announced his cabinet of 15 senior ministers who will take their oath of office on Monday.

Police seized 284 boxes of designer handbags and dozens of bags filled with cash and jewellery in the raid on a luxury condominium in the centre of Kuala Lumpur linked to Najib.

Items such as Birkin handbags from Hermes, watches and other valuables were carted out of the condominium at the upmarket Pavilion Residences, police said.

“Exactly how much jewellery, I would not be able to say, because we know that we confiscated bags containing jewellery and the number of jewellery is rather big,” Amar Singh, director of police commercial crime investigations, told reporters.

Mahathir has barred Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, from leaving the country.

Mahathir claims there is sufficient evidence to investigate the multibillion-dollar scandal at the 1MDB fund that Najib founded. Authorities in six countries, including the United States, are also investigating the fund.

Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s prime minister-in-waiting, expects former premier Najib Razak to be jailed over 1MDB graft

Najib’s lawyer on Thursday denounced the search of Najib’s home as “harassment”.

Critics of Najib have often accused his wife of lavish spending, which they say was done with public funds.

The US Justice Department said last year in a filing in a civil lawsuit that nearly US$30 million of funds stolen from 1MDB was used to buy jewellery for Rosmah, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace.

Singh said police carried out simultaneous searches at six premises – the prime minister’s office and official residence in the administrative capital of Putrajaya, the family mansion in Kuala Lumpur where Najib lives, and three other private residences.

“This is the result of the search in one of the six premises,” Singh said, pointing to the hundreds of luxury items seized from the condominium.

Singh said police had also seized documents linked to 1MDB.

For Mahathir, Malaysian election victory was the easy part: culture of corruption will be the real test

Stories of lavish spending by Najib’s family have long been a sore point for Malaysians.

A prime minister earns a fixed salary of 22,826.65 ringgit (US$5,750) a month and cannot invest in businesses or stocks while in office. Najib earned an additional monthly salary of 16,000 ringgit as a member of parliament.

Police began their searches late on Wednesday, with officers seen entering Najib’s private home some 20 minutes after he had asked, in a post on Twitter, for “forgiveness for past sins”.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Reuters