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MALAYSIA POST-ELECTION

Designer bags, jewellery, cash seized from Najib's home

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A police truck being loaded with orange boxes, the signature colour of the French luxury brand Hermes, on May 18. Police seized 284 boxes of designer handbags and dozens of bags filled with cash and jewellery from a luxury condominium in Kuala Lumpur linked to ousted prime minister Najib Razak.

Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIAN police seized 284 boxes of designer handbags and dozens of bags filled with cash and jewellery on Friday from a luxury condominium in the centre of Kuala Lumpur linked to the country's former prime minister Najib Razak.

The anti-corruption commission has also asked Mr Najib to give a statement on Tuesday about a corruption probe looking into a transfer of millions of dollars from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The police have been searching his home and other places linked to him as part of the investigation into 1MDB. Items such as Birkin handbags from Hermes, jewellery, watches and other valuables were carted out of the condominium at the upmarket Pavilion Residences, in the pre-dawn hours, police said.

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"Exactly how much jewellery, I would not be able to say, because we know that we confiscated bags containing jewellery and the number of jewellery is rather big," Amar Singh, director of police commercial crime investigations, told reporters.

The summons by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) comes as evidence was uncovered relating to some US$10.6 million transferred from 1MDB's former subsidiary, SRC International, to an account belonging to Mr Najib, said a member of a panel which reviewed the commission case files.

A Reuters witness saw commission officials arriving at Mr Najib's residence. "They are there to serve notice to attend MACC on Tuesday next week to record a statement related to SRC," one of the sources said.

Shortly after Mr Najib and his long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition were defeated in the polls, new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad barred him and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, from leaving the country.

Dr Mahathir, 92, who was once Mr Najib's mentor, says there is sufficient evidence to investigate the multi-billion-dollar scandal at the 1MDB fund that Mr Najib founded.

Authorities in six countries, including the United States, are investigating the fund. Mr Najib denies any wrongdoing. His lawyer on Thursday denounced the long search of Mr Najib's home as "harassment".

Critics of Mr Najib have often accused his wife of lavish spending, which they say was done with public funds.

Her alleged excesses - which included designer handbags, watches and jewellery bought while travelling around the world - have been widely reported, although she has never spoken about it herself.

The US Justice Department said last year in a filing in a civil lawsuit that nearly US$30 million of funds stolen from 1MDB was used to buy jewellery for Ms Rosmah, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace.

Mr Singh said police carried out simultaneous searches at six premises linked to Mr Najib, all in connection with their investigation into 1MDB.

The premises include the prime minister's office and official residence in the administrative capital of Putrajaya, the family mansion in Kuala Lumpur where Mr Najib lives, and three other private residences linked to him.

"This is the result of the search in one of the six premises," Mr Singh said, pointing to the hundreds of luxury items seized from the condominium. He added that police had also seized documents linked to 1MDB.

Stories of lavish spending by Mr Najib's family have long been a sore point with many Malaysians. REUTERS