236 handbags owned by Rosmah, Nooryana Najwa gifts, court told

Laywer says not impossible for ex-PM’s wife, daughter to accept assets, including shoes and watches, as presents from friends, dignitaries

KUALA LUMPUR : The 263 handbags of various brands, 27 pairs of shoes and 10 pieces of luxury watches seized by police from the residence of Datuk Seri Najib Razak relating to the misappropriation of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds are gifts from friends and dignitaries, the high court here was told today.

Lawyer Iskandar Shah Ibrahim – representing the former prime minister’s wife and daughter, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Nooryana Najwa – said there were no money trail to show that all the assets were from the misappropriation of 1MDB funds.

Based on an affidavit of 1MDB investigating officer Foo Wei Min, the prosecution itself could not confirm if the handbags and shoes are gifts or acquired with wealth from illegal activities, he added.

“The handbags confiscated are gifts from close friends, including dignitaries, Rosmah’s in-laws, Nooryana Najwa’s mother-in-law, and other unidentified people.

“We argued that the applicant (prosecution) could not identify or evaluate all branded handbags, except the Hermes bags.

“On the balance of probability, it is not impossible for Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa, who are the wife and daughter of the former prime minister, to accept them as gifts or make their own acquisition,” he said when arguing in the proceeding of claim to forfeit the ownership from Rosmah, Nooryana Najwa and 16 others.

236 handbags owned by Rosmah, Nooryana Najwa gifts, court told
Two years ago, the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed a forfeiture notice on hundreds of items from, among others, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, relating to the misappropriation of 1MDB funds. – EPA pic

On May 8, 2019, the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed a forfeiture notice on hundreds of items, including handbags of various brands and 27 vehicles, from Najib, Rosmah and their three children – Nooryana Najwa, Nor Ashman Razak and Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz (Najib’s stepson) – as well as 13 companies and individuals linked to 1MDB.

Apart from that, money amounting to more than RM18 million in several bank accounts in Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd, Al-Rajhi Bank Bhd, Malayan Banking Bhd, CIMB Bank Bhd, RHB Bank Bhd, Public Bank Bhd, AmBank Bhd and Hong Leong Bank Bhd were frozen between August 16, 2018, and March 11, 2019.

On the 27 pairs of shoes seized, Iskandar Shah argued that Foo’s allegation in his affidavit that it is impossible for Nooryana Najwa to own the shoes is baseless as the woman has clearly disclosed her source of income and submitted valid evidence through her affidavit.

“In fact, Foo in his affidavit did not make any evaluation to determine whether Nooryana Najwa could afford to buy (the shoes), as such there is a possibility that the shoes are not from illegal activities.

“The affidavit also did not deny that the bags are gifts or giveaways, but Foo, at the same time, puts the burden on Nooryana Najwa to prove it by submitting a purchase receipt or the like.”

Lawyer Azamuddin Aziz, who argued on behalf of Nor Ashman Razak and Riza Shahriz, said there is no evidence of cash flow to show that 1MDB funds were used to buy 10 watch straps belonging to his clients.

“Foo, in his supporting affidavit, said Nor Ashman Razak did not have an income tax file at all, and thought, in that situation, it was not possible for him to buy the watches.

“However, Nor Ashman Razak, in his affidavit in reply, said the four watch straps were gifted by his father and his friends.

“Riza Shahriz, on the other hand, said he had bought the six watch straps and submitted the receipts, but was still disputed by the applicant.”

Azamuddin said all the respondents are consistent in their statement that all the property confiscated are personal gifts and from a legitimate acquisition, and requested that the application for forfeiture of property be rejected.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan set June 18 for the prosecution to reply to the submissions.

BERNAMA / THE VIBES

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