Thursday 18 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 14): The High Court on Monday (Nov 14) dismissed the forfeiture of 2,435 pieces of jewellery, seven Richard Mille watches, and 29 Hermes handbags belonging to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor which were seized by the police in a raid in May 2018.

This means that Najib and Rosmah are free to claim back their valuables.

Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin said the prosecution had failed to prove that the items were products gained from criminal breach of trust (CBT) using 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds.

Jamil said the prosecution had failed to prove that there was a predicate offence of CBT on a balance of probabilities.

This follows the court finding that the affidavits by main investigating officer Assistant Commissioner R Rajagopal and also Superintendent Foo Wei Min had failed to prove CBT of 1MDB funds either from Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners, Good Star Ltd, or Alsen Chance Holdings Ltd.

The court also ruled that there was no evidence that the RM2.963 billion funds obtained in Najib’s AmBank Islamic account ending with the number 9694, which came from Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud, resulted from unlawful activities.

“Hence, following the failure to prove the predicate offence, the prosecution has unsuccessfully proven the proceeds they are claiming in this forfeiture exercise are through unlawful activities.

“Following this, the application to forfeit is dismissed,” the judge said.

The court further accepted that the seven watches in question worth more than RM4 million were gifts, while the handbags were not from proceeds of unlawful activities.

The prosecution led by deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Faten Hadni Khairuddin then applied for a stay of the ruling, pending a decision on whether to appeal.

Senior lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, representing Najib, objected to a stay of the ruling, as did lawyer Azamuddin Abdul Aziz, who appeared for Rosmah.

Both argued that the prosecution could not apply for a stay of Jamil’s decision on an uncertainty — on whether the prosecution would appeal or otherwise.

DPP Faten, however, argued that a return of the valuables may render the prosecution’s appeal nugatory, and due to the volume of the valuables, the court ought to grant a stay.

After hearing the submissions, Jamil refused to grant a stay of the ruling.

With the prosecution not obtaining a stay of the High Court decision today, Najib and Rosmah's lawyers, especially Shafee, have indicated that they will try and get the valuables back as soon as possible. In the meantime, the prosecution can appeal to the Court of Appeal against the High Court's decision on refusing to grant a stay, if it wants to.

In addition, the prosecution has 14 days from Nov 14 to file a notice of appeal over Jamil's forfeiture dismissal decision.

Left with RM80 million from RM1 billion

The raid was conducted at the Pavilion condo owned by OBYU Holdings Sdn Bhd, in the middle of May 2018, following Barisan Nasional and the then-incumbent prime minister’s loss in the 14th general election.

OBYU Holdings is owned by businessman Tan Sri Bustari Yusof, the brother of caretaker Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

The jewellery, watches and Hermes handbags, which were said to be worth RM80 million, are being claimed by Najib and Rosmah.

This was out of assets worth approximately more than RM1 billion, comprising close to 12,000 pieces of jewellery, several hundred handbags and watches, and their accessories that were seized in the highly publicised seizure from the condo.

It is understood that some of the earlier items that had been kept at Bank Negara Malaysia's vault over the years were released or returned following representations made.

The application to forfeit was made under Section 56(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

Rosmah, who was sporting an all-red outfit, along with Najib, who was wearing a royal blue blazer and a matching blue tie, were present during Monday's proceedings.

Najib was brought from the Kajang Prison, where he is serving a 12-year jail sentence after being found guilty in relation to abuse of power, CBT and money laundering of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds. The former PM was also fined RM210 million.

SRC was formerly a subsidiary of 1MDB.

In May last year, the judge also dismissed the prosecution’s bid to forfeit RM114 million cash in various foreign denominations that was seized in the Pavilion raid — after ruling that the prosecution had failed to prove that the cash came from illegal proceeds. He ordered for the funds to be returned to Umno and Najib.

The court prior to this also allowed a claim made by Lebanese firm Global Royalty Trading SAL for a US$220,000 (RM1.01 million) bracelet that was seized from the Pavilion raid, as both Najib and Rosmah had dropped their claim on it. The bracelet was returned to the firm.

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Edited ByAniza Damis & Surin Murugiah
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