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Over RM114 million in cash, 400-plus luxury bags seized in 1MDB probe

Ex-PM Najib's home, apartments of son and daughter among properties searched

Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIAN police said on Friday that cash worth RM114 million (S$38.4 million) and over 400 luxury handbags were seized from several apartments as part of an anti-graft probe into a state fund founded by former prime minister Najib Razak.

Mr Najib's home and the apartments of a son and a daughter were among a dozen properties searched since May 18, commercial crime division head Amar Singh told a news conference.

Since his defeat in an election on May 9, Mr Najib has been barred from leaving the country by the new government, which has reopened an investigation into billions of dollars missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

At one empty apartment, officers found 35 bags stuffed with cash valued at RM 114 million. The banknotes were in 26 currencies, though the largest amounts were in ringgit and Singapore dollars. "We have sat together with bank officials to tally and estimate the total cash seized," Mr Singh said.

He said the empty apartment in Pavilion Residences, in the Bukit Bintang neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur, did not belong to any of Mr Najib's family members. He declined to name the owner.

Police also found 284 boxes of handbags in the apartment, and a further 150 handbags were seized from the home of Mr Najib's daughter, Nooryana Najwa, along with various shoes, including baby shoes. Ms Nooryana, better known as Gina, is married to a nephew of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Mr Singh did not say what was found at the home of Mr Najib's son Ashman.

Experts were being brought in to value the jewellery, watches and other luxury items seized during the raid.

Mr Singh said half a million ringgit, excluding foreign currency, was found at Mr Najib's home.

Mr Najib concluded giving a statement to anti-graft agents on Thursday that was related to transactions of US$10.6 million into his bank account that investigators traced to a former unit of 1MDB. Mr Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing, having said three years ago that a sum of US$680 million transferred into his account was a donation from an unnamed Saudi royal.

In a separate development, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a tweet that he had asked tax authorities to investigate financier Low Taek Jho and his family as part of the 1MDB probe. Commonly referred to as Jho Low, the high-living 36-year-old was close to Mr Najib's family. His whereabouts are unknown.

He has previously denied any wrongdoing, but the US Department of Justice is seeking to seize his assets, including a US$250 million superyacht that the department says was purchased with funds "stolen and embezzled" from 1MDB.

Malaysia's new government pledged on Friday to honour all payments on debt arising from 1MDB. It has estimated that government guarantees covered RM38 billion of 1MDB's debt at the end of 2017.

"We are not happy with 1MDB, but we have to honour our international obligations," Mr Lim said. "I think this will reassure the markets that this government knows what it is doing". REUTERS

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