Malaysian police seized a huge haul of designer handbags, many of them stuffed with cash and jewellery, in searches of homes and offices linked to scandal-tainted ex-premier Najib Razak, local media reports said today. Amar Singh, head of the Malaysian police commercial crime investigation unit, told media early today at one of the raid sites that the value of what was seized was impossible to immediately estimate due to its sheer volume. “Our personnel checked these bags and discovered various currencies including Malaysian ringgit, US dollars, watches and jewellery in 72 bags,” he said. The bulk of the police haul appeared to have been found in luxury condominiums at an upscale complex in central Kuala Lumpur.
The revelations quicken Najib’s already precipitous fall since his longtime ruling coalition was unexpectedly trounced at national elections last week by a diverse alliance that had made his alleged corruption a central campaign theme. Police launched extensive searches of Najib’s home and a number of other sites starting late Wednesday as the new government headed by 92-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad presses forward with its pledge to bring Najib to justice. Mahathir had already barred Najib, 64, from leaving the country in the wake of the election amid allegations that he oversaw the looting of billions from a sovereign wealth fund he had established. Amar Singh said the seized items included Hermes, Birkin and Louis Vuitton handbags.
Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor has long been reviled by Malaysians for her reported vast collection of designer handbags, clothing and jewellery, acquired on jet-set overseas shopping trips. Her reputation contributed to accusations that the ousted ruling establishment had lost touch with economically struggling and middle class Malaysians. There has been no indication yet that any arrests were forthcoming. But Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim, the former opposition leader who was jailed under Najib but freed on Wednesday, have indicated they expected charges against Najib soon. Last week’s poll ended the six-decade reign of the authoritarian Barisan Nasional coalition. Mahathir had led the coalition from 1981-2003 but quit in recent years in protest at Najib’s alleged corruption.
Source: Financial Express