Najib: Rosmah shocked over RM1 bil value tagged to seized items

Former prime minister Najib Razak says many of the jewellery items belonged to jewellers who now want them back.

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak does not agree with the RM1 billion estimated value put on items seized by the police from residences linked to him.

He said the reported value from the raid had left his wife, Rosmah Mansor, “surprised” and in disbelief.

“I think the valuation… She doesn’t believe it will come up to that amount.”

Najib said a large part of the jewellery seized was not legally owned by Rosmah. He said some of the jewellery belonged to their daughter, Nooryana Najwa, her Kazakh husband and mother-in-law.

Some of the items were also owned by jewellers who had sent them “for viewing” and these had to be returned, he said in an interview with Malaysiakini.

Federal police today announced the full list of jewellery, handbags and luxury watches seized from Najib’s residences last month. Police said the items had an estimated market value of between RM900 million and RM1.1 billion.

Najib explained that some of the items received were gifts accumulated during his four-decade career in politics.

“If the gifts are given to you by other heads of state, like on occasions like your birthday and not expecting anything in return, it is not illegal.

“But what I do know is that over the years as head of government, we have been gifted with a lot of items by foreign leaders as well as personal friends.

“I do know that under the law it is not illegal to receive gifts. These gifts were accumulated over decades.”

Asked if it was ethical for someone in his position to accept valuable gifts, Najib said former US president Barack Obama’s wife Michelle received millions from the late Saudi ruler King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud.

“And when King Salman visited Indonesia recently, he also gave millions worth of gifts. So some of these monarchs in certain countries, it’s part of their culture to give costly items.

“For example, items given to me by these monarchs, I have not used them. I have kept them because I don’t use very expensive things, as my friends know.

“I don’t use any watches that contain valuable stones,” he said.

The former premier said he had planned to include these gifts in his galleria at some point of time and noted that one of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s museums in Langkawi had 9,000 items.

On the RM116 million in cash seized by the police from his residences, Najib said it was part of the funds for the recent election.

“In any case, when you fight an election, you have to spend pre-election, during election and post-election. Don’t forget I was president of the party of Umno and BN with 13 component parties.

“Running a major party with three million members like Umno is an expensive affair.

“And again, it is on record, when Mahathir resigned, he handed over RM1.4 billion to (his successor) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in assets and cash.

“That is on record. So when you consider the context, it is a fraction of the amount,” he added.

Some of the foreign currencies seized were his own, collected from travels for over 30 years, he added. He said some of the foreign currencies were “contributions”.

Najib said the cash was kept at the Pavilion Residences as he had to vacate the Prime Minister’s Office and his official Seri Perdana residence within two hours.

Najib alleged Mahathir’s “trusted aide” had once come knocking at his Jalan Duta home for RM10 million in cash for the 13th general election.

He said Mahathir, too, had openly admitted receiving 40 horses from his friends.

“I am sure there are other gifts he received as well throughout his career,” he said.

Najib said when he was prime minister, he had mooted election funding laws to be enacted so there would be transparency in election funding, but this was strongly opposed by the then opposition.

“Had it gone through, the election funding in this country would be handled in a much more transparent way.

“But if I were to do it for BN but not for them, then we would be at a disadvantage.”

Over RM1 billion in items seized from Najib raids, say cops