Govt fails bid to forfeit RM80 million assets belonging to Najib, Rosmah

14 Nov 2022 05:42pm
Najib and Rosmah
Najib and Rosmah

KUALA LUMPUR – The government has failed to forfeit a total of 2,435 jewellery, seven watches and 29 designer handbags worth RM80 million, seized during a raid on a premises owned by Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd at the Pavilion Residences, four years ago.

Some of the items purportedly belonged to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

High Court judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin made the decision after dismissing the prosecution’s forfeiture application.

In his brief judgement, Muhammad Jamil said the prosecution had failed to prove that the assets seized were proceeds from an illegal activity.

He said the Federal Police Head of Special Investigation Division of the Anti-Money-Laundering Team Superintendent Foo Wei Min failed to prove that the items were a result of criminal breach of trust (CBT) activity or stolen property.

"It is clear that there is no element of the predicate offence (illegal activity) in obtaining the watch or using 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) embezzled funds," he said.

He said a total of US$247,599,466 was paid by Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners and several other parties to 31 jewellery manufacturers and sellers for the purchase of the jewellery.

Thus, he said, there was no issue that the jewellery were obtained in relation to the predicate offence.

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Meanwhile, on the 29 handbags, the judge said Foo claimed that they were received as personal gifts, but the officer had not provided solid evidence to prove it.

"On the balance of probabilities, the applicant (prosecution) had failed to prove that the assets seized are related to illegal activity.

“The application to forfeit 2,435 jewellery, seven watches and 29 designer handbags is dismissed," he said.

During the proceeding, the prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutors Faten Hadni Khairuddin and Harris Ong Mohd Jeffrey Ong while Najib and Rosmah were represented by lawyers Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Tania Scivetti, Azamuddin Abd Aziz and Iskandar Shah Ibrahim.

After the decision was delivered, Faten Hadni applied for a stay of execution pending appeal against today's ruling.

"We ask the court to stay the execution of returning the items until the appeal,” she said.

After hearing submissions from both parties, Muhammad Jamil rejected the prosecution's application for a stay of execution.

This, he said was because the court has decided that the assets seized were not derived from illegal activities.

On July 25, 2020, the couple had inspected 306 handbags, 401 watches, 16 watch accessories and 234 eyeglasses seized by police from a premises belonging to Obyu Holdings at the Pavilion Residences in 2018.

This follows the prosecution’s forfeiture application filed in 2019 against the company for the confiscation of various items including 11,991 jewellery, 401 watches, 16 accessory watches, 234 pairs of glasses, 306 handbags, as well as cash in various currencies amounting to RM114,164,393.44.

Najib and his wife Rosmah were third parties who had sought to claim the jewellery and watches in the prosecution’s forfeiture application against Obyu Holdings, a company owned by businessman Tan Sri Bustari Yusof.

The items seized by the police from the premises on May 17, 2018 was said to be linked to the 1MDB financial scandal.