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Branded handbags link to 1MDB scandal destroyed due to careless handling, says lawyer

KUALA LUMPUR (June 10): The High Court was told today that millions of ringgit of designer bags that were allegedly linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal and seized by the police had been destroyed due to careless handling of the items.

Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, representing former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, said the damage to the handbags was realised during an inspection of the items, which were kept in a vault at Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), by his client.

The inspection was made by Najib, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and their daughter Nooryana Najwa on last Feb 22, in another application.

“There was no respect for the items seized at all ... the handbags which they (police) knew are very expensive, have been destroyed by police because they had marked directly on the handbags with magic ink,” he said.

He said this in his submissions on Najib’s application to physically inspect branded handbags, jewelleries and other valuables seized by the police in 2018.

Muhammad Shafee said his client was not at the scene during the seizure of the items, but the manager of the building (where the items were kept), was present.

“The exhibits (the seized items) were also not properly documented … as such our application for inspection is more for us to look at the exhibits,” he said.

Deputy public prosecutor Faten Hadni Khairuddin, however, objected to Najib’s application to inspect the items on security grounds as the items seized were worth over RM680 million.

She said it was a serious allegation to say that the seized items had been destroyed as they were kept in a vault at BNM and accessible only to authorised persons.

Later, Justice Muhammad Jamil allowed Najib’s application after ruling that the former prime minister had the right to inspect the items for him to prepare his defence in the forfeiture application.

“The questions on security and the huge quantity of the items are not an issue.

“I also allowed the applicant (Najib) to be accompanied by two solicitors in conducting the inspection under the supervision of the respondent’ (prosecution),” he said.

The prosecution had filed the application to forfeit the assets that were seized from a premises belonging to Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd.

The seizure was made under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

Najib was the third party in the forfeiture’s application.

Obyu Holdings is owned by Bustari, the younger brother of former Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

In the notice of motion filed against Obyu Holdings, the items included 11,991 units 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.

A major portion of the luxury items seized by the police was reported to have been from an apartment belonging to Obyu Holdings.

In addition, a piece of property in Kuala Lumpur was also seized on Nov 1, 2018.

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