Monday, March 1, 2021

Najib, Umno want separate hearing on forfeiture of cash, bling linked to 1MDB

Their lawyer says this is because inspection of the jewellery remains impossible due to travel restrictions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Former prime minister Najib Razak and Umno have applied for a separate hearing on the prosecution’s application to forfeit the RM114,164,393.44 and jewellery seized from a premise owned by Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd over alleged links to the 1MDB scandal.

Lawyer Fazreen Hazrina Rahim, representing Najib and Umno, said it would prejudice her clients if the court refused to have a separate hearing for forfeiture of the money and jewellery as inspection of the jewellery was still not possible.

“This is because the representative for the third party, a Lebanese goldsmith from Global Royalty Trading SAL, is understood to be in the UK and there are travel restrictions to Malaysia due to Covid-19,” she said.

However, deputy public prosecutor Faten Hadni Khairuddin objected, saying the application to forfeit both money and jewellery was made in one notice.

Judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin set Nov 25 to hear the application, saying it was not prejudicial to the prosecution.

“The claim by Najib and Umno on the money can be heard first without the need to wait for the other third party to inspect the jewellery.

“The court will only return the property that was seized from a third party if it is satisfied with the third parties fulfilling the five items as stated in Section 61 (4) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds from Illegal Activities Act 2001,” he said during case examination today.

He also ordered both parties to file their affidavits-in-reply within 14 days.

The application to forfeit the money and jewellery was filed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) against Obyu Holdings.

Najib, Umno and Global Royalty are third parties in the application.

The notice of motion filed against Obyu Holdings said the items included 11,991 pieces of jewellery, 401 watches and 16 watch accessories, 234 pairs of eyewear and 306 handbags, as well as cash in various denominations amounting to RM114,164,393.44.

In June last year, then-MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said the agency had filed a civil forfeiture suit against 41 respondents to forfeit about RM270 million allegedly linked to the 1MDB fund scandal and received by the respondents from Najib.

She said the action was taken under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.

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