Police are preparing to load confiscated items onto a truck in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, May 1
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – In ten days of dramatic political developments, no one has penetrated the Malaysians more than The sight of truckloads full of orange boxes with Hermes Birkin Handbags and luggage full of money and jewelry from homes attached to them Former Prime Minister Najib Razak
Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, was known for her love for Birkin's bags and opulent lifestyle But television recordings from the police shock Malaysia. It may be the most sensational picture of elitist corruption in Asia in the three decades since former Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos and her extravagant collection of designer shoes.
Thousands of Malaysians followed a livestream social network police raid on an upscale condominium in Kuala Lumpur late Thursday that was part of a corruption and money laundering investigation by the 1MDB state investment fund that Najib founded and is investigating abroad. Police said Friday that they had seized 284 handbags, mostly Birkins, and 72 suitcases with cash, jewelery, watches and other valuable items filling five police cars from the condo. In addition, the police seized dozens of other designer handbags, cash and other valuables from Najib's house.
The labels on some of the boxes seen by The Associated Press described some of the bags as "navy blue crocodile skin with diamonds". a "blue with diamante" crocodile skin Hermes and a gray crocodile skin Hermes. Everything seemed to be new and bought abroad, including in Paris and Switzerland in 2013 and 2015. Luxury publications say a Birkin can cost between $ 12,000 and $ 200,000.
Rosmah's bag fetish was compared to Marcos' shoe collection. In the Philippine Presidential Palace, more than 1,200 pairs of designer shoes with gold-embellished imports were found after they and their dictator husband, President Ferdinand Marcos, escaped a riot of the "people's power" that overthrew the regime in 1986.
Ferdinand Marcos used his power to accumulate an estimated five to ten billion dollars, but it was his wife's treasures that stamped the couple's excesses into the collective memory of their poor nation and the world.
Rosmah was regarded by many Malaysians as a stingy First Lady and, like Marcos, reflects her collection of bags and jewelry, which allegedly contains a $ 23 million pink diamond necklace bought with 1MDB money, the extent of the excesses the family.
US investigators say Najib's staff stole and washed $ 4.5 billion from the fund, some of which landed on Najib's bank account. Najib, whose coalition was overthrown last week after 60 years in power, denies any wrongdoing.
A Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission official said that Najib was summoned to interrogate as part of his 1MDB trial. The official, who refused to be named because the case is sensitive, said that Najib was notified to the Commission on Tuesday.
Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department, Amar Singh, said raids were also raided at several other locations, including Najib's family home, former PM and official residence. Documents related to 1MDB have been removed from the office, and the police are still trying to open a safe in Najib's house, he said.
Singh did not want to say if the spoils would lead to an indictment of Najib. The search for evidence continues, he said.
Social media was filled with comments from angry Malaysians who wanted to see Najib and his wife arrested. In contrast, new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was praised for his frugality after being seen at an event with a $ 4 pair of sandals.
Mahathir, 92, opened a probe in 1MDB after leading an opposition alliance to victory in May 9 polls. He served as prime minister for 22 years until 2003, but retired in anger over the 1MDB scandal.
Mahathir, now the world's oldest elected leader, said initial investigations showed that the extent of Najib's wrongdoing was more serious than expected. He said arrests will be made if there is evidence, and there would be "no deal" with Najib.
The police have searched for Najib's house for 20 hours since late Wednesday, and several police cars arrived at Najib's house on Friday morning. His arrest could be imminent. Najib and his wife were denied the overseas trip.
Mahathir said the government will seek to reclaim billions of dollars that have been laundered by 1MDB to repay the debts that have accumulated over the years. The government has also told the current Attorney General that Najib committed misconduct in 2016 that he should go on vacation and has released the treasurer of the country, who is also chairman of the 1MDB.
The government has appointed a five-member former Attorney General and Advisor to the Indonesian Financial Services Authority to handle the 1MDB case.
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