Bank cards belonging to former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak were used to spend over US$800,000 in one day in 2014 at a luxury jeweller in Italy, a Kuala Lumpur court has heard.
The avuncular Najib, his family and friends are accused of stealing billions from the state-run investment fund 1MDB around the world. He was arrested after losing the May 2018 general election and went on trial over the scandal in April.
It is alleged US$681 million went into Najib’s personal bank account.
Najib denies all the charges.
According to Bernama, the AmBank’s vice president told the court that two credit cards belonging to Najib were used to spend 3.3 million ringgit (US$803,000) at the Swiss jeweller De Grisogono in Italy.
Yeoh Eng Leong of Malaysia’s AmBank did not disclose what was bought on the day of indulgence on August 14, 2014.
The same cards also paid 460,000 ringgit at a Chanel store in Hawaii and over 120,000 ringgit at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok, he said.
There were also payments to the House of Bijan and Hugo Boss.
All the payment came from Najib’s AmBank account, prosecutors said.
The two cards, with a combined limit of 3 million ringgit, were cancelled in April 2015.
Najib posted on Facebook: “This expenditure is for a gift to a senior member of the royalty of a government and their entourage that has good relations with our country. (Not Saudi Arabia or Abu Dhabi).
“It is normal to give gifts to leaders of other governments. Usually the government will bear the cost of the gifts (such as when the fourth prime minister [Mahathir Mohamad] gave a big gift to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe), but I had paid for the gifts using my own credit cards,” he added.
Najib’s Facebook post received more than 17,000 “likes”, pointing to ongoing support among the electorate.
He did not explain why the 3.3 million ringgit was charged on his two credit cards for 10 smaller transactions or explain the source of funds.
The trial is the first of several that Najib is due to face over 1MDB and involves claims that 42 million ringgit was taken from SRC International, a former subsidiary of the sovereign wealth fund.
Najib and his vilified wife, Rosmah Mansor, have experienced a dramatic fall from grace since the surprise electoral defeat. A police raid discovered valuables – including 1,400 necklaces, 567 handbags, 423 watches, 2,200 rings, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras –worth up to US$273 million in properties linked to the couple.
Former prime minister Najib Razak has kept fighting. Picture credit: YouTube