Malaysia police seize $28m cash in raids linked to ex-PM Najib

Over 400 luxury handbags were also seized from several apartments as part of an anti-corruption probe into state fund.

Najib - luxury items
Police said they were still assessing the value of jewellery and watches seized in the raids [AP]

Malaysian police said on Friday that cash worth 114 million ringgit ($28.6m) and over 400 luxury handbags were seized from several apartments as part of an anti-corruption probe into a state fund founded by former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Malaysian police revealed on Friday that 72 bags of luggage – 35 of which were stuffed with $28.6m of cash in 26 different currencies – as well as jewellery and luxury watches were found from an empty apartment in a series of separate raids last week.

A total of 284 boxes containing expensive designer handbags were also seized from the vacant premises, which police declined to say who it belonged it to.

Two other residences occupied by Najib’s son and daughter were also raided among the 12 locations.

“What I can confirm is that we did confiscate about approximately 150 bags from the premises where the daughter is staying,” Amar Singh, commercial crime chief, said at a news conference on Friday.

Singh added that police are still assessing the value of jewellery and watches in the rest of the 37 items of luggage.

Najib, who was defeated by veteran politician Mohamed Mahathir, is being investigated by the new government over a corruption scandal at the state-owned investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), from which officials are alleged to have stolen more than $4.5bn.

The former prime minister was questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) twice this week, including a marathon seven-hour session on Thursday. 

1MBD scandal

In 2016, the US justice department filed a case seeking to seize more than $1bn in assets in the US linked to the 1MDB fund.

US investigators have also alleged that $700m from the 1MDB fund ended up in Najib’s bank account.

Najib, who is banned from leaving the country, has denied allegations of any wrongdoing.

“There have also been other revelations and these are proving hard for many Malaysians to stomach as it’s now coming out that the money used to support this 1MBD fund was goverment money,” said Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from the capital Kuala Lumpur.

“For so long, the previous government had maintained and so had the former CEO of the fund that taxpayer’s money wasn’t being used to prop up this fund, but it’s now been found out that taxpayer money is being used to pay the interest,” she added.

So far, $1bn, earmarked for infrastructure and education, has been paid out by the central bank.

Another $35m is due to be paid in interest rates by the end of the year. 

“Many Malaysians are understandably angry,” said Al Jazeera’s Gopalan.

“This had previously led to protests against the previous government and it is essentially this corruption scandal that unseated the former government and brought the new government in.”

Source: Al Jazeera