Wife of former Malaysian PM Najib Razak questioned in 1MDB probe
Authorities suggest more charges could be brought in corruption investigation
The wife of Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak was questioned on Wednesday by the country’s anti-corruption agency over alleged theft and money laundering involving the 1MDB state investment fund.
Rosmah Mansor was summoned for a second time since June 5 and could face criminal charges like her husband. Najib, 65, has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of money laundering, corruption, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust over the scandal involving the 1MDB state fund and will face trial next year.
Rosmah, wearing a green outfit and carrying a matching handbag, did not speak to reporters as she entered the agency’s building, escorted by police and her lawyers.
Rosmah, 66, is widely reviled for her opulent lifestyle and penchant for expensive jewellery and designer Birkin bags that led to her being compared with former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos and her extravagant collection of designer shoes.
Police found hundreds of luxury handbags, jewellery and cash – worth more than US$266 million – during raids on flats linked to the family soon after Najib’s shocking electoral defeat. Seized were 567 handbags, 423 watches and 12,000 pieces of jewellery including 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings, 2,800 pairs of earrings and 14 tiaras. Najib has said the items were mostly gifts given to his family.
Malaysians celebrate the downfall of Rosmah Mansor, the big-spending, reviled wife of ousted PM Najib Razak
In a biography in 2013, Rosmah said it was common for a prime minister’s wife to receive expensive jewellery and gifts. She also said she earned millions of ringgit from an album she recorded that wasn’t released to the public but bought by government ministers who were fans of her singing.
The anti-corruption agency chief Mohamad Shukri Abdull earlier this week said the agency had completed its probe on Rosmah and submitted the investigation papers to the attorney general’s chambers.
Najib set up the 1MDB fund when he took power in 2009 but it accumulated billions in debts and is being investigated in the US and several other countries. US investigators say Najib’s associates stole and laundered US$4.5 billion from the fund from 2009 to 2014, some of which landed in Najib’s bank account. They say US$27.3 million was used to buy a rare diamond necklace for Rosmah.
Public anger over the scandal eventually led to the loss of Najib’s long-ruling coalition in May 9 elections that ushered in the first change of power since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957.
New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations into 1MDB that were suppressed under Najib’s rule. He has also banned the couple from leaving the country.
Police have said investigations show that US$972 million was transferred into Najib’s bank accounts from three companies linked to 1MDB. Najib has accused Mahathir’s government of seeking political vengeance against him and his family.