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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Najib spent RM60m on holidays, shopping and jewellery, reports WSJ

More details of startling revelations regarding Prime Minister Najib Razak’s multimillion ringgit spending on luxury goods emerged today.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Najib spent a total of US$15 million (RM58.8 million) on holidays, shopping and jewellery. The spending was done at stores in the United States, Malaysia, Italy and elsewhere.
Malaysian investigation documents show that Najib’s credit card was charged US$130,625 (RM512,194) at exclusive fashion store Chanel in Honolulu, two days before he teed off with US President Obama on the Christmas Eve of 2014.
That trip became a controversy as parts of Malaysia’s east coast were then hit by devastating floods and Najib had to fly back to visit the affected areas.
WSJ reported that a worker at a Chanel store in the upscale Ala Moana Center recalled that Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, shopped there just before Christmas.
“The transaction in the Chanel store was paid for with a Visa card in Mr Najib’s name, according to the Malaysian investigation documents. At first the transaction didn’t go through and Mr Najib, who was present, had to call his bank to approve the charge, said one of the people aware of the shopping trip,” the report says.
The documents show that the credit card was paid for with an account in Najib’s name, and that account had been credited with US$9 million (RM35 million) a few months earlier.
According to the documents, the money came from SRC International, the former unit of 1MDB that is now under the Finance Ministry, which is headed by Najib.
“On the day Mr Najib played golf with Mr Obama, SRC International transferred a further $9 million to the account via 1MDB’s corporate social responsibility arm. The money arrived the day after Christmas,” the WSJ report states.
According to WSJ, the documents also show Jakel Trading Bhd, a Malaysian luxury clothing retailer, as one of the most regular recipients of funds from Najib’s accounts.
“Between 2011 and 2014, Mr Najib transferred over $14 million (RM55 million) to Jakel, according to the documents. The company specialises in traditional Malay formal wear, suits, wedding attire and home furnishings.”
WSJ added that there was also a recorded expenditure on June 28, 2011, at Signature Exotic Cars, a car dealership in Kuala Lumpur, for US$56,000 (RM220,000).
“Mr Najib’s credit card also incurred charges of €750,000 (RM3.3 million) in August 2014 at an Italian branch of De Grisogono, a Swiss-owned jewellery store, again being financed from the same account as the expenses in Hawaii, according to bank-transfer information that forms part of the Malaysian government probe.
“A person who works for De Grisogono confirmed Ms Rosmah, the prime minister’s wife, was a client of a branch of the jewellers in Porto Cervo, a tiny Sardinian resort. De Grisogono declined to comment.”
WSJ had also contacted the other companies allegedly involved in the transactions, but all did not respond to its request for comment.
Najib has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and the use of government funds for personal gain.
“Let me be very clear: I have never taken funds for personal gain as alleged by my political opponents—whether from 1MDB, SRC International or other entities, as these companies have confirmed,” he wrote in a Facebook posting last year.
Malaysiakini is contacting the Prime Minister's Office, Najib's aides and his lawyers for their response to this report.
[More to follow]

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