KNOWN for her lavish lifestyle and taste for extravagant handbags and jewellery, the spouse of Malaysia’s ousted prime minister is now being investigated by the country’s anti-graft agency over a corruption probe involving her husband.
Rosmah, who has often been compared to the opulent former Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos, was seen entering the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya on Tuesday to be questioned by investigators.
She is the country’s first former prime minister’s wife to be questioned by the MACC. Her husband, Najib Razak, is being investigated over how RM42 million (US$10 million) from a state-owned company called SRC International had landed into his personal bank account.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki told national news agency Bernama that investigators would be recording Rosmah’s statement on the matter.
“Yes, the notice has been given to her and she needs to be present tomorrow (Tuesday) to facilitate investigations,” he said earlier.
In recent weeks, the Royal Malaysia Police’s (RMD) Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) seized RM130 million (US$32 million) in cash stored in dozens of bags hidden in several luxury apartment units linked to Najib. The cops also seized 284 boxes containing an estimated RM200 million (US$50 million) worth of designer handbags, jewellery and watches.
The MACC recently reopened a probe into the suspicious money transfers into Najib’s bank account from SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state fund at the heart of what’s been dubbed the ‘world’s biggest financial scandal’.
Last month, a shock election result upended Malaysia’s political order. It was the first defeat for the Barisan Nasional coalition that governed the Southeast Asian nation since its independence from colonial rule in 1957.
Malaysia’s new leader, Mahathir Mohamad has reopened investigations into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the parent company of SRC International, and has vowed to recover money that disappeared from the fund.
Najib has said another US$681 million of funds deposited in his personal bank account were a donation from a Saudi royal, rebutting reports that the funds came from 1MDB.
SRC was created in 2011 by Najib’s government to pursue overseas investments in energy resources, and was a unit of 1MDB until it was moved to the finance ministry in 2012.
MACC has been able to track the money trail from SRC more easily because transactions were made through Malaysian entities, whereas most other transfers of 1MDB funds went through foreign banks and companies, according to Reuters.
At least six countries, including the United States, are investigating 1MDB. Najib denies any wrongdoing.