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Najib denies seeking witness protection over 1MDB probe

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Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has denied that he is seeking witness protection over the probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Kuala Lumpur

FORMER Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has denied that he is seeking witness protection over the probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

When asked by reporters at Kediaman Seri Kenangan in Pekan, Pahang, if it was true that he was seeking protection, Mr Najib replied: "No, no. I'm not," The Star online news reported.

Online portal Malay Mail, which claimed to have seen the police report, had earlier reported that Mr Najib, who is MP for Pekan, asked for witness protection, claiming that those linked directly or indirectly to 1MDB funds both in Malaysia and abroad had made threats to his and his family members' lives.

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

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 that reviewed the commission case files.

Federal investigators have been searching properties linked to Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor, including the couple's private mansion in Taman Duta and condo units in Pavilion Residences, all in Kuala Lumpur, in connection with the probe into 1MDB.

The official residence of the Prime Minister in Seri Perdana, Putrajaya and the Prime Minister's Office in Putra Perdana are also being combed.

The confiscated items include several truckloads of boxes containing luxury Hermes, Chanel and Gucci handbags and suitcases with hard cash in various currencies.

Mr Najib has also been blacklisted from leaving the country by the Immigration Department.

Meanwhile, several viral photos of luxury watches, handbags and stacks of cash supposedly seized from Mr Najib's residence were reported to be fake.

A quick Google Image search reveals that several of these viral images are stock photos.

One image showing a tray of six gold Rolex watches is being widely shared on social media site Pinterest, while another image of luggage filled with stacks of US currency is from a June 2016 robbery case that took place in the US.

The most widely distributed photo is of 27 multi-coloured Hermes Birkin handbags laid out neatly on what looks like a living room floor.

This photo was previously shared on Sarawak Report's Facebook page, saying it was an unverified photo purportedly of Ms Rosmah's designer bags estimated at RM20 million (S$6.8 million).

On Saturday, Singapore-based luxury goods store Shopfirstluxury debunked the photo, clarifying that it was taken in its showroom.

"If anybody receives this broadcast (viral photo), please just don't spread it again using this picture," Shopfirstluxury wrote on its Instagram account.

"In this fast information era, let's be a responsible news reader, and think twice before sharing to your friends and family," it added.

The photo of the collection of expensive handbags went viral several days after polling day at the same time as several Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia members lodged a police report claiming that they had information about an alleged attempt to transport and hide up to 50 Birkin handbags belonging to Ms Rosmah in a luxury residence in Kuala Lumpur.