Lebanese jeweller ‘upset’ at having to sue long-time friend Rosmah

Rosmah Mansor and jeweller Samer Halimeh were introduced at a private event in Belgravia. (pic courtesy of Samer Halimeh New York)

PETALING JAYA: A Lebanese wholesale jeweller who is suing Rosmah Mansor for the return of jewellery seized by authorities probing 1MDB says he is “upset and saddened” for having to take such action against the former prime minister’s wife as he has a decade-long friendship with her and Najib Razak.

In a statement, Samer Halimeh, the CEO and creative director of Samer Halimeh New York, said his and the jewellery brand’s relationship with Rosmah had its origins in Central London, when they were introduced in 2009 at a social event in Belgravia.

He said Rosmah had asked Samer Halimeh New York to help sponsor and showcase diamond jewellery at an overseas charity event.

Samer said his firm also supplied their “VIP jewellery” to various events Rosmah and Najib attended in London and other cities.

Samer went on to state that due to their close friendship, he and his wife even attended Rosmah and Najib’s daughter’s wedding in 2015.

“Which is why by 2018, we trusted the relationship enough to provide Rosmah with £11.5 million worth of jewellery on a ‘try-before-you-buy’ basis. I think it was ordered in anticipation of the couple winning the 2018 general election.

“We are very upset and saddened to have to bring a legal suit and court action against Rosmah in this manner.”

Last month, it was reported that Global Royalty Trading SAL filed a RM60 million suit against Rosmah at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on June 26.

Global Royalty is a Beirut-based business entity that is part of the Samer Halimeh New York business empire.

Samer said the suit was filed by Global Royalty as the collection ordered by Rosmah was done via the Beirut operation. However, the jewellery is from the international Samer Halimeh New York brand and collection, retailed from outlets in London and Manhattan.

According to Global Royalty’s statement of claim, Rosmah was a long-standing customer who often received consignments of jewellery to evaluate and purchase.

Rosmah, they said, would sometimes borrow the jewellery as well, which would be received by either her or her agent in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Dubai.

In the consignment dated Feb 10 this year, the report said 44 pieces of jewellery were sent to Rosmah, including diamond necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings and a tiara worth between US$124,000 and US$925,000 each.

Global Royalty cited a letter dated May 22 in which Rosmah allegedly acknowledged receipt of the jewellery. However, it said in its statement of claim that the items were no longer with Rosmah as they had been seized by the authorities.

They are now seeking a court declaration that it is the rightful owner of the jewellery and that the items must be returned failing which Rosmah must pay the amount determined based on the value of the pieces.

In his statement today, Samer said that all they were seeking is for their jewellery collection to be returned to its rightful legal owners since the sale was never completed.

“This retail order might be for millions of pounds worth of stock, but just like any Net-a-Porter or Amazon order, it is mandatory procedure for a customer to return unwanted or unpurchased goods to the retailer, the principle is the same.”

He added that it was the “basic legal obligation” of both Rosmah and Najib as well as the current Malaysian government to return the unpurchased goods.

In June, police said over RM1 billion worth of items were seized in raids at several premises linked to Najib after Pakatan Harapan took over Putrajaya in the May 9 polls.