Malaysia's first lady linked to $30 mln worth of jewelry bought with 1MDB funds

Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:56pm EDT
 
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By A. Ananthalakshmi

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Nearly $30 million of funds stolen from scandal-hit 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was used to buy jewelry for the prime minister's wife, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace, according to the latest filings by the U.S. Justice Department in a civil lawsuit.

The filings lodged at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday did not identify Prime Minister Najib Razak or his wife Rosmah Mansor by name, but said the jewelry purchases were for the wife of "Malaysian Official 1."

Malaysian and U.S. government sources have previously confirmed that "Malaysian Official 1" refers to Najib.

The diamond necklace set alone cost $27.3 million, according to the latest filings in a lawsuit that was launched last July.

The accusations will provide further ammunition for Najib's political rivals, who often criticize his wife for lavish spending, and come at an awkward time for the Malaysian leader, as he had been expected to call a snap election later this year.

Rosmah's aide did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The prime minister's office, in a statement early on Friday, said it was "concerned by the unnecessary and gratuitous naming of certain matters and individuals that are only relevant to domestic political manipulation and interference."

Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

A total of $4.5 billion have been misappropriated from 1MDB, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday. The fund was set up by Najib in 2009 to promote economic development.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO: Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor arrives before Najib's National Day speech in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur August 30, 2015.   REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo