1MDB sues ex-Malaysian PM’s wife for ‘funneling’ $346M to buy luxury goods

In 2018, police seized U.S. $217.4 million in luxury goods, including more than 200 Hermès Birkin handbags, from Najib Razak’s properties.
Iman Muttaqin Yusof
Kuala Lumpur
1MDB sues ex-Malaysian PM’s wife for ‘funneling’ $346M to buy luxury goods Rosmah Mansor, wife of incarcerated former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, March 3, 2023.
[S. Mahfuz/BenarNews]

Malaysia’s defrauded 1MDB and some subsidiaries have sued Rosmah Mansor, lover of fine things and wife of incarcerated ex-PM Najib Razak, for U.S. $346 million that she allegedly swindled from the sovereign fund.

The fund and its affiliates allege that Rosmah spent the pilfered money on luxury bags, watches and jewelry, sourcing the goods from 48 sellers across 14 countries. 

The lawsuit, filed May 9 in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, said Rosmah bought these items through a Singaporean fashion designer, Shabnam Naraindas Daswani (also known as Natasha Mirpuri), who is also targeted in the case.

“A total of 320 such payments totaling U.S. $346,010,489 were made,” the lawsuit said.

The companies alleged that the duo knowingly received or assisted in using the cash improperly.

The suing companies have demanded a return of the funds allegedly stolen – along with interest – compensation for legal costs, and any profit made from the sale of the goods, among other penalties.

The plaintiffs have asked the court to impose penalties they see fit on Natasha for what they said was dishonest assistance in the alleged purchase of the luxury goods.

The court set May 24 for technical proceedings in the case.

In May 2018, as part of corruption investigations into 1Malaysia Development Berhad, which investigators estimate was looted of $4.5 billion, Malaysian police seized bags, watches, jewelry – including  more than 200 Hermès Birkins – and wads of cash worth a total of $217.4 million from Najib’s properties. 

The 1MDB case that broke in 2015 caused shockwaves worldwide with Malaysia becoming a byword for corruption.

Investigators estimate that more than $4.5 billion was plundered from 1MDB through fraudulent shell companies to corrupt government and bank officials and their associates. And the case involved a global cast of characters, including a well-known hip-hop star and a Hollywood A-lister.

Rosmah’s husband, Najib, was involved as well. 

He is in prison for the misappropriation of $9.5 million from a 1MDB subsidiary SRC International, but authorities reduced his 12-year sentence by half in February. He remains on trial in separate cases directly linked to 1MDB, including one connected with 2.3 billion ringgit (U.S. $487 million) that allegedly vanished from the fund and was deposited into the then-prime minister’s accounts.

Second lawsuit related to jewelry purchase

Meanwhile, Rosmah’s counsel in this case filed by 1MDB said they would soon release a media statement on the lawsuit.

“As we have thus far only been served with a copy of the Writ [without the Statement of Claim] by the plaintiffs’ solicitors, we urge all parties to refrain from speculating on the matter and from making and publishing any statements on the same,” Rosmah’s counsel Rajivan Nambiar told BenarNews.

This is the second civil suit brought against Rosmah for the alleged purchase of jewelry.

In April last year, Lebanese jeweler Global Royalty Trading SAL sued for the return of $14.57 million, for what they alleged was the delivery of 44 pieces of jewelry to Rosmah in February 2018. The ex-PM’s wife claimed those items, which police confiscated in May 2018, are no longer in her possession.

Rosmah’s defense argued that if the 43 jewelry pieces were lost, the police or the Malaysian government should be held responsible because they were in charge of the raids on Najib’s properties. The Lebanese jeweler’s items were seized during those raids.

The next hearing on this case is on May 29.

Rosmah, 73, was found guilty of corruption related to a hybrid solar project for rural schools in the state of Sabah. She was given a 10-year prison sentence and fined $233 million, but is out on bail as has filed an appeal against the verdict and sentencing.

The Court of Appeal is scheduled to begin hearing this application Oct. 23 this year.

Additionally, Rosmah is on trial for charges related to income tax and money laundering totaling $1.5 million.


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