- REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin
- Police seized $28.6 million-worth of cash, which included 26 foreign currencies, from properties reportedly linked to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
- The seizures happened on six properties linked to Najib last week, where 284 designer handbags and 72 bags were found stuffed with cash, jewelry, and watches taken.
- Police needed 22 bank staff and 11 counting machines to track and verify all the cash found.
- The raids appear to be part of an investigation into suspicious money transfers from the state investment fund which lost billions of dollars.
Police recently seized $28.6 million-worth of cash from a residence reportedly linked to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib lost a national election earlier this month in a dramatic turn of events which led to the first transition of power to the opposition alliance in the country’s independent history. Najib’s popularity began to plummet in 2015 after billions of dollars went missing from the state fund 1MDB, and hundreds of millions were reportedly found in Najib’s personal bank accounts.
After being sworn in as the new prime minister Mahathir Mohamad promised to continue the investigation into 1MDB, saying he expected charges to be laid against Najib. Last week, police conducted raids on six properties linked to Najib and seized 284 luxury handbags and 72 bags of cash, jewelry and watches. At the time.
Amar Singh, head of Malaysia’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), said in a press conference on Friday that 35 of 72 bags contained cash totaling about $28.6 million.
“We’ve counted since 21 to 23 May, and yesterday we sat with the bank to tally the amount in that seizure. I can confirm that the money in those 35 bags is about 114 million ringgit ($28.6 million). It’s in 26 currencies, Malaysian ringgit, US currencies and various other denominations,” Singh said.
Singh had been unable to provide estimates of the amount of cash seized earlier “because it was a lot,” he said. Police used 11 counting machines and 22 bank officers to count and verify the 26 foreign currencies that were seized.
The luxury handbags and bags of cash and jewelry was seized from an empty apartment in the Pavilion Residences on May 18. Nothing else was in the apartment except for furniture, Singh said.
Though Singh would not confirm whether the apartment was linked to Najib, the raid occurred at the same time police began searching Najib’s home, and the apartment of each his son and daughter in the Pavilion Residences. From Najib’s home 500,000 ringgit ($125,000), plus additional foreign currency, was also seized.
Experts will soon start the process of authenticating and appraising the remaining 37 bags of jewelry and watches.
Of the remaining 284 designer handbags found in boxes, most of these were from Hermes which can cost up to $200,000 each.
“We have already discussed with Hermes and we’ll take pictures and send it to Paris to certify from the aspect of authenticating it and also the price,” Singh said.
Earlier this week, Najib gave a testimony to Malaysia’s anti-graft agency over $10.6 million found in his bank account, which allegedly originated from a former 1MDB subsidiary.
Najib set up the 1MDB fund in 2009, but in 2015 nearly $700 million was reportedly found in his personal bank accounts, which a royal Saudi family member said was a personal donation.
A number of countries, including the US and Switzerland, are investigating $4.5 billion that was allegedly siphoned off from 1MDB, some of which was used to fund “The Wolf of Wall Street” movie and diamonds for supermodel Miranda Kerr.
Najib is currently barred from leaving the country.