The United States Justice Department has linked Malaysia’s first lady, Rosmah Mansor, to the purchase of jewels with almost $30 million (approximately 193 crore) of funds stolen from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad, Reuters reported on Friday. The US department’s filings at the District Court in Los Angeles did not identify Prime Minister Najib Razak or his wife Rosmah Mansor by name. But a Malaysian minister had confirmed that Razak was the accused referred to as “Malaysian official 1”.
The filings said the jewellery, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond necklace set, was bought for the wife of ‘Malaysian Official 1’. The development will give Razak’s rivals an edge in the upcoming snap election which he had announced for 2017-end. Mansor has been criticised for her high expenditure. Her spokesperson is yet to comment on the matter.
Razak’s office 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.” The prime minister has continuously denied the allegations against him.
Razak had inaugurated the state investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad in 2009, AFP reported. The US department had filed a case to confiscate assets amounting to over $ 1 billion in misappropriated 1MDB funds. Rumours of a major scheme involving misuse of funds started doing the rounds in 2014.
In August, thousands of protesters participated in an agitation in Kuala Lumpur demanding the arrest of ‘Malaysian Official 1’. The agency reported that Razak has clamped down on media coverage of the scandal and ordered an end to the probe.