Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Najib is RM114 million richer but questions remain if money was returned to Umno

The former prime minister received the money days before he failed to delay the settlement of some RM1.6 billion in tax.

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Some RM114 million in cash confiscated in 2018 from a luxury condominium in Kuala Lumpur has been returned to former prime minister Najib Razak, MalaysiaNow can confirm.

It is learnt that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) returned the money on June 17, about a month after the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the government’s forfeiture suit for RM114 million in cash said to have been misappropriated from state investment fund 1MDB.

Najib had said that he had kept the RM114 million on behalf of Umno.

In May, the High Court ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove that the money was obtained from illegal activities or that it had originated from 1MDB.

Among others, the prosecution claimed that the RM114 million was part of a total of US$971 million (about RM2.9 billion) which Najib was said to have received from 1MDB between 2011 and 2013.

Police load suitcases of items confiscated during a raid into a truck in Kuala Lumpur on May 18, 2018. Police seized hundreds of designer handbags and dozens of suitcases containing cash, jewellery and other valuables as part of a corruption and money-laundering investigation into former prime minister Najib Razak. Photo: AP

Following the court decision in May, the prosecution applied for the court to decide to whom the money should be returned.

Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah however said that it was up to his client how to divide the money between him and Umno.

A source in Umno told MalaysiaNow it was possible that Najib had returned the money to his party, but could not confirm if this was done.

The money was returned to Najib just days before he failed in his attempt to delay the settlement of RM1.69 billion in tax owed to the Inland Revenue Board. That case will be heard in the Court of Appeal this month.

Najib has also filed an application to strike out a bankruptcy notice against him over his failure to settle the tax, saying among others that it was part of a conspiracy to destroy his political career.

In the raids that followed Najib’s fall from power in 2018, authorities also confiscated a stash of luxury items including jewellery, watches and handbags valued in the hundreds of millions of ringgit, which investigators believe are linked to the 1MDB scandal.

On July 28 last year, the High Court sentenced Najib to 12 years in jail and fined him RM210 million after finding him guilty of seven counts of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power involving RM42 million in funds from former 1MDB unit SRC International.

Najib is appealing against his conviction and sentence at the Court of Appeal.

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