Malaysia seizes luxury bags, cash, jewelry in probe of ex PM

Esequiel Farfan
May 18, 2018

On Thursday Najib's lawyer, Harpal Singh Grewal, told reporters that he understood that the items had been seized in order to advance an investigation under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Acts, Bernama said. He declined to give details.

New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who won a stunning election victory last week that unseated Najib's National Front coalition after 60 years in power, reopened the probe into the 1MDB state investment fund, which is also being investigated overseas.

The fund is being investigated by the authorities of at least six countries, including the USA justice department, which alleges billions were laundered through layers of foreign bank accounts to finance Hollywood films and luxury goods, including jewellery and a yacht.

In an interview with AFP a day after he walked free from custody - where he had languished since 2015 on what supporters say were trumped-up charges levelled at Najib's behest - Anwar also said he would be back in Parliament very soon.

Singh said police have carried out raids on six premises, which include the prime minister's office and the prime minister's official residence in Putrajaya and four private residences linked to the former premier.

But voters resoundingly rejected the government of scandal-tainted Najib Razak and voted in an opposition alliance, triggering a series of dizzying developments - with Anwar's release perhaps the most dramatic yet.

A police spokeswoman could not be contacted for comment.

He added a "new dawn" has come for Malaysia and its people, regardless of race; and said he has forgiven former prime minster Najib Razak though the latter must be prepared to answer for his "crimes against the people".

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United States prosecutors have alleged layers of foreign bank accounts and shell companies were used to launder the money and named Low Taek Jho, a friend of Najib's stepson, as a key figure in the conspiracy.

Mahathir has said the government will seek to retrieve billions of dollars laundered from 1MDB to repay government debts that have piled up over the years.

The government has also told the current attorney general, who cleared Najib of wrongdoing in 2016, to go on leave. "Najib wasted a lot of Malaysia's money". On Saturday, political activists had filed a police report claiming they had video evidence of an alleged attempt to "hide" at least 50 Birkin bags that were being transported in a government van.

Last week's shock election victory followed a reconciliation between Mr Anwar and his 92-year-old erstwhile political mentor, who sacked and jailed him 20 years ago during his first stint as prime minister.

Critics of the former prime minister have often accused his wife of lavish spending, which they say was done with public funds.

"Can open, is not hard, we manufactured it", said Lion's manager, Tan See Chong, in a text message confirming the men work at the firm.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (R) attends a press conference in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, May 17, 2018.

"I don't need to serve in the Cabinet for now", he said.

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