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Wife of Malaysia’s Former Leader Questioned in 1MDB Graft Probe

Hadi Azmi
Kuala Lumpur
2018-09-26
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Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, arrives at the headquarters of the anti-graft agency MACC in Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital, Sept. 26, 2018.
Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, arrives at the headquarters of the anti-graft agency MACC in Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital, Sept. 26, 2018.
S. Mahfuz/BenarNews

Malaysia’s anti-corruption officials questioned the wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for almost 13 hours Wednesday as part of the investigation tied to the state fund 1MDB.

Rosmah Mansor, 66, reported to the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) at 9:52 a.m., accompanied by her lawyers. She emerged from the building in Putrajaya, the nation’s administrative capital, at about 10:40 p.m.

“I am OK, alhamdulillah,” Rosmah told reporters, using an Arabic expression of relief that means “Praise God.”

MACC investigators took her statements less than a week after her husband pleaded not guilty to counts of money laundering, corruption, criminal breach of trust and abuse of power in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) probe. Najib, 65, is expected to face trial in February 2019.

The questioning lasted four times longer than when Rosmah appeared before MACC the first time on June 5 when she spent about three hours at the same office.

One of her lawyers, K. Kumaraendran, said MACC investigators had completed their questioning.

“I have nothing else to say. I am not ready to make a statement,” he told reporters.

MACC did not issue a statement to explain why the questioning lasted as long as it did.

The agency’s chief commissioner, Mohd Shukri Abdull, told reporters on Monday that the agency’s report related to Rosmah had been submitted to the attorney general’s office.

“The MACC is only responsible for carrying out investigations. It is up to the [attorney general] whether to prosecute Rosmah or not,” he told reporters at the time.

Authorities barred Najib and his wife from leaving the country after the Barisan Nasional coalition was swept from power in the May 9 general election. The coalition’s electoral defeat ushered in Mahathir Mohamad’s return to power and led to the re-openings of 1MDB investigations.

MACC had questioned Najib about how 2.6 billion ringgit (U.S. $642.6 million) and 42 million ringgit ($10 million) from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB, had ended up in his personal bank accounts.

Najib, who is out on a million-dollar bail, denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the funds were donated by the Saudi royal family.

Najib founded 1MDB as a sovereign investment fund ostensibly to pursue projects beneficial to Malaysians. But, according to court documents filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, the fund was used between 2009 and 2014 to satiate the ostentatious lifestyle of people with power over it.

DOJ officials described the 1MDB affair as the “worst kleptocracy scandal in recent times,” alleging that almost $4.5 billion from the state fund were embezzled and laundered through real estate and other assets.

Days after Mahathir took power, police raided a former office and residences linked to Najib and hauled off 567 designer handbags, hundreds of luxury watches and dozens of suitcases containing cash and 12,000 pieces of jewelry.

Police said the raids were part of an investigation into the 1MDB case, adding that the seized items were valued at an estimated $273 million.

Raising speculations

Shukri said Rosmah appeared to answer MACC questions.

“No arrest. Ongoing statement recording,” he told BenarNews earlier Wednesday.

Rosmah’s ostentatious lifestyle led her to being compared with former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos, who kept thousands of pairs of designer shoes in her basement at the presidential palace in Manila before a civilian-backed military revolt toppled her husband in 1986.

But Najib and Rosmah maintained that most of the items seized by police were gifts accumulated throughout Najib’s career as a government official, as well as gifts received by their daughter during her wedding.

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