Assets seized from former prime minister Najib Razak as part of investigations into the looting of state funds have been returned to the disgraced politician and his political party.
Assets worth RM114 million that were seized from Najib’s Pavilion Residences on May 17, 2018, were returned on June 17, months after the prosecution decided not to file an appeal against the forfeiture suit on March 11. Najib and several other third parties including his wife, and political party UMNO, had been trying to stake a claim in the seized assets since late 2019.
“The assets have been returned to Najib via a representative as the prosecution decided against filing an appeal,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Faten Hadni Khairuddin said today. The government had named the company OBYU Holdings, which owns Pavilion Residences, as the owner of the seized assets.
The police had in 2018 raided Najib’s place of residence during the wee hours, seizing 11,991 units of jewelry, 401 watches, 234 pairs of eyewear, 306 handbags, and 16 other accessories. Cash in various denominations amounting to RM114,164,393.44 was also taken after Najib became a suspect in the alleged misappropriation of roughly US$4.5 billion worth of funds from the insolvent 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Earlier this year, High Court Judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin dismissed the prosecution’s application to strip rights to the assets that were seized, saying that the police had failed to prove that the cash was linked to the scandal, while the prosecution could not justify that the cash was procured via money laundering. As a result, Jamil allowed Najib and UMNO to strike out the affidavit.
“Accordingly, I rule that the affidavit cannot be used and I will not consider the affidavit in support. Shafee may continue with the submission,” said the judge at the hearing of the government’s application to forfeit assets seized from premises owned by Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd. He was referring to Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Another third party who tried to get a hold of those assets was a Lebanese jeweler known as Global Royal Trading SAL, but later withdrew its claim. It filed a lawsuit against Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor last year over 44 pieces of jewelry that were consigned to her. It is unclear whether they were among the jewelry seized by authorities.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that all assets were returned.