Najib: Valuation of jewellery unrealistic

Najib: Valuation of jewellery unrealistic
PHOTO: Reuters

PETALING JAYA - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has claimed that the valuation of items, particularly jewellery, seized from several residences linked to him are "subjective and unrealistic", adding that many of them were gifts from foreign leaders and friends.

"It depends on the source of the stones and when they were gifted or purchased.

"Valuation can tend to differ," he told Malaysiakini in an interview yesterday.

He said he hoped to examine the items seized to allow for an explanation as to how they came about.

However, he conceded that like any husband, he was not aware of the extent of his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's collection of jewellery and other items.

Furthermore, he was not provided with the full and detailed list of the items seized during the raids carried out since last month.

Najib said he was furnished with an incomplete list with vague descriptions and without photographs of the seized items.

"But what I do know is that over the years as head of the government, we have been gifted with a lot of items by foreign leaders as well as personal friends, and I do know that under the law it is not illegal to receive gifts.

"These gifts were accumulated over a span of decades," he said, adding that Tun Dr Mahathir Moha­mad admitted to receiving 40 horses as gifts from his friends and foreign leaders.

Graphic: The Star/Asia News Network

Pressed on his statement that it was not illegal for him to receive the gifts, Najib said: "If the gifts are given to you by other heads of state on occasions such as your birthday and nothing is expected in return, it is not illegal."

He said he had planned to include these gifts in his galleria at some point in time.

He said Rosmah herself was surprised by the number of items.

"I think the valuation... she doesn't believe it will come up to that amount," he said.

He added that some of the jewellery sent for viewing needed to be returned to the jewellers.

"We need to identify these items and return them," he said, adding that jewellers had written in to legally claim back their items.

Najib said a sizeable amount of the jewellery seized did not legally belong to Rosmah; it belonged to their daughter Nooryana Najwa, her husband and her mother-in-law.

He also claimed the RM116mil in cash recovered during the raids was for general election expenses.

Najib arrived at the Malaysiakini office at about noon and left at 2pm.

He left his house at Jalan Langgak Duta during Comm Amar Singh's press conference.

Najib did not speak to journalists who were waiting outside the Malaysiakini office when the interview was over.

It was learnt that the interview centred around the 1MDB scandal and the cash and items seized.

Malaysian police search places linked to ousted PM Najib

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    The cash and items seized from the six residences linked to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak amounted to between RM900 million (S$304 million) and RM1.1 billion, say the police.

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    He said that more than 12,000 pieces of jewellery - comprising 2,200 rings, 1,400 necklaces, 2,100 bracelets, 2,800 pairs of earrings,1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras were seized.

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    He added that this was the biggest seizure in Malaysian history.

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    Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor arrived at the headquarters of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to have her statement recorded in connection with a suspicious transfer of about $10.6 million (S$14.2 million) from the former 1MDB unit SRC International.

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    The sum is just a fraction of the billions of dollars allegedly siphoned from 1MDB, the state fund that Najib set up, in a scandal that dogged the last three years of his near-decade-long rule and was a key reason why he was voted out in a May 9 election.

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    M. Puravalen, a lawyer acting for Najib and Rosmah in connection with the SRC investigations, told Reuters on Tuesday he had "ceased acting" for Najib and Rosmah.

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    He said a second lawyer, Yusof Zainal Abideen, had also quit.

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    Puravalen, Abideen and other members of their legal team were reported to have walked out because they failed to reach common ground with Najib on several issues.

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    Najib has already made a series of statements to anti-graft investigators

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    but attention has shifted to his wife after police discovered hundreds of luxury handbags and a stash of jewelry and cash during raids on apartments linked to Najib and his family.

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    Malaysian police have seized 284 boxes filled with designer handbags, watches, jewellery and cash in various currencies from three luxury condominiums.

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    Comm Amar said the designer handbags were of various brands including Louis Vuitton and Birkin bags from Hermes.

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    He added that it was impossible for police to estimate the value of the items seized because there were just too many items and cash seized.

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    He also said that the apartment was not owned by Najib but a "Tan Sri".

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    Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Amar Singh, who led the raids at Pavilion Residences here said this was part of its investigations into 1MDB.

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    This follows a police check of six locations linked to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak here and in Putrajaya, including the Prime Minister's Office, his official residence as well as four other residences.

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    When asked whether Najib would be arrested, he said: "There is no indication that they (the police) will do it."

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    He said Najib and his family were cooperative with police. "They (the police) also acted professionally," he said.

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