PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor can apply to the High Court to return the movable properties seized by the police last year if they can prove that these were lawfully acquired, a lawyer says.
Rabinder Singh said even third parties who have an interest in the properties can do so if they are genuine or bona fide.
“The couple must show that the properties once in their possession were not acquired through illegal activities,” he told FMT.
He said the couple, or any other interested parties, have one month to respond after the government filed a civil forfeiture claim under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla).
It was reported yesterday that the government has filed a suit against Najib, Rosmah and several others over the seizure of jewellery, cash, handbags and luxury vehicles believed to have been purchased with 1MDB money.
This follows two notices of motion and supporting affidavits filed at the High Court on Tuesday to seize a total of RM711 million worth of items from these individuals.
The first notice of motion was to seize a piece of property in the Klang Valley, cash (including in foreign currencies), jewellery, handbags, watches and sunglasses said to be worth RM680 million.
The second notice of motion was to seize RM31 million worth of items including 27 luxury cars, cash (including in foreign currencies) and more watches and bags, and to freeze 29 bank accounts.
On May 16 last year, police conducted a raid on several residences and offices linked to Najib.
Former Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Amar Singh said then that the cumulative value of the items seized was estimated at between RM900 million and RM1.1 billion, making it the biggest seizure in the country’s history.
The 234 sunglasses alone, of various brands including Gucci, Versace and Cartier, were estimated to be worth some RM374,000, while the total amount of cash seized stood at RM116.7 million, according to Amar.
Umno made a claim for the RM116.7 million but the High Court struck out the claim two months ago.
Rabinder, who specialises in Amla, said the police had a maximum of three months to freeze the properties and another nine months to seize and place them under government custody.
“During this period, they could have filed a criminal charge against the couple or returned the seized items. But this was not done and the government is now relying on Section 56 of Amla to forfeit the properties,” he added.
Najib, in a Facebook posting, said the Pakatan Harapan government had no respect for the rule of law.
“Their words are not consistent with their action,” he said on the move to forfeit the properties through the court.