By S. Harrish
THE 263 branded handbags that were seized in the 1MDB case were “gifts” to Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and her daughter, the Kuala Lumpur High Court was told today.
Their lawyer Iskandar Shah Ibrahim submitted this during the hearing of the government’s suit to forfeit cash and assets including branded handbags, allegedly linked to 1MDB.
According to a Malaysiakini report, Iskandar contended that Rosmah and daughter Nooryana Najwa had affirmed in their affidavits that the handbags were gifts to them in their capacities as wife and daughter of the then Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He claimed that the prosecution failed to establish a link between the items and the funds from 1MDB because even the anti-money laundering investigating officer in the 1MDB case conceded that at least some of the handbags seized were gifts.
“Especially these Hermes handbags could not be traced to be bought (with funds from 1MDB). These bags are not the bags that could be bought at normal shops,” Iskandar said.
The lawyer further submitted that it is reasonable for Nooryana to be able to afford some of the handbags as she had earned money while working in various jobs in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong in the past.
Iskandar also contended that some of the seized handbags were wedding presents from the in-laws of her husband Daniyar Kessikbayev from Kazakhstan.
“The Hermes (handbags) are a large part of the wedding and engagement gifts, not just by her husband but also by the mother-in-law,” Iskandar said.
Meanwhile, in relation to submissions for another respondent, Najib’s son Nor Ashman Razak, his counsel Azamuddin Aziz contended that his client also received seized watches as gifts.
Azamamuddin claimed that the prosecution failed to show a 1MDB link for the watches as Nor Ashman had attested in his affidavit that the watches were gifts from Najib as well as from a friend.
Among the valuables seized on May 17, 2018, and on June 11, 2018, were 52 branded handbags, 10 watches and cash in different denominations – RM187,750 in old notes, RM21,150 in new notes, £320,500 in old notes, £2,700 in new notes, US$100, €20, S$40, 2,870,000 Sri Lankan rupees, 13,177.00 rupiahs, 376 hryvnias (the Ukrainian currency), 50 francs, 10 rands, 531 riyals, and 740 Philippine pesos.
Also seized on the same day were four branded watches, 171 high-end handbags and 27 pairs of shoes, while 40 luxury handbags were confiscated on June 11, 2018.
On Aug 2, 2018, some 27 Nissan Urvan vehicles were also seized by the authorities.