Wife of Malaysia’s ex-PM grilled for 13 hours in 1MDB case
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) — The wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was grilled by the anti-graft agency for nearly 13 hours Wednesday over alleged theft and money laundering involving the 1MDB state investment fund.
Rosmah Mansor arrived at 10 a.m. after being summoned for a second time since June 5 and left the agency’s building at about 10:40 p.m. She smiled to reporters as she emerged from the building, escorted by her lawyers and police.
“I am OK,” she said, but declined to comment further.
It was unclear why Rosmah was questioned at this time. The chief of the anti-graft agency, Mohamad Shukri Abdull, said earlier this week that the agency had completed its probe of Rosmah and had submitted its investigation report to the attorney-general’s office for further action.
Her husband, Najib, has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of money laundering, corruption, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust over the scandal involving the 1MDB state fund and is to face trial next year.
Rosmah, 66, is widely reviled for her opulent lifestyle and penchant for expensive jewelry and designer Birkin bags that led to her being compared with former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos and her extravagant collection of shoes.
Police found hundreds of luxury handbags, jewelry and cash — worth more than $266 million — during raids on apartments linked to the family shortly after Najib’s shocking electoral defeat in May. Seized were 567 handbags, 423 watches and 12,000 pieces of jewelry including 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings, 2,800 pairs of earrings and 14 tiaras. Najib has said the items were mostly gifts to his family.
In a biography in 2013, Rosmah said it was common for a prime minister’s wife to receive expensive jewelry and gifts. She also said she had earned millions of ringgit from her own music album, which wasn’t released to the public but was bought by government ministers who were fans of her singing talent.
Najib set up the 1MDB fund when he took power in 2009 but it accumulated billions in debts and is being investigated in the U.S. and several other countries. U.S. investigators say Najib’s associates stole and laundered $4.5 billion from the fund from 2009 to 2014, some of which landed in Najib’s bank account. They say $27.3 million was used to buy a rare diamond necklace for Rosmah.
Public anger over the scandal eventually led to the ouster of Najib’s long-ruling coalition in May 9 elections that ushered in the first change of power since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957.
New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations into 1MDB that were suppressed under Najib’s rule. He has also banned the couple from leaving the country.
Police have said investigations show that $972 million was transferred into Najib’s bank accounts from three companies linked to 1MDB. Najib, 65, has accused Mahathir’s government of seeking political vengeance against him and his family.