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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Samer Halimeh New York said today it believed that Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor wanted to wear some of its million-ringgit diamond jewellery at events if Barisan Nasional (BN) won the 14th general election.
Lebanese-born American diamond jeweller Samer Halimeh, whose Beirut-based arm Global Royalty is suing the former prime minister’s wife for the return of 44 pieces of diamond jewellery worth £11.5 million (RM60 million), said Rosmah’s staff contacted Samer Halimeh New York early this year and asked for the jewellery to be delivered to her.
“The First Lady wanted to review the pieces on a ‘try-before-you-buy’ basis. This is standard procedure at the very top end of diamond jewellery retailing,” Samer Halimeh New York said in a statement, referring to Rosmah.
“It is believed that the First Lady wanted to wear some of the delivered jewellery at VIP events if her husband won the 2018 Malaysian general election, held on the 9th May 2018,” the luxury jeweller added, referring to former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Rosmah is the former prime minister’s wife, not former First Lady as there is no such office in a Westminster democracy like Malaysia.
Samer Halimeh New York, whose diamonds have been worn by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie and Naomi Campbell, said the 44 pieces of jewellery ordered by Rosmah ranged in price from £95,000 (RM504,233) up to £710,000 (RM3.8 million) and included a diamond ring worth £710,000, two diamond necklaces and matching earrings worth £515,000 (RM2.7 million), and another diamond necklace and earrings worth £450,000 (RM2.4 million).
Halimeh said his company had a 10-year relationship with Rosmah and Najib, which started in London at charity and fashion events and led to Rosmah buying jewellery from him.
“We are very upset and saddened to have to bring a legal suit and court action against Rosmah Mansor the former First Lady in this manner,” he said in the statement.
“We also supplied our VIP jewellery to various events the First Lady and Prime Minister attended in London and other cities.”
The American jeweller, whose flagship premises are in London and Manhattan, said he and his wife even attended the “glittering multi-million” 2015 wedding of Rosmah’s and Najib’s daughter Nooryana Najwa to Daniyar Kessibayev, where he said guests had received Hermes handbags as goodie bags.
“I think it was ordered on anticipation of the couple winning the 2018 general election,” Halimeh said.
Halimeh, who is CEO and creative director of Samer Halimeh New York, said he first met Rosmah in 2009 at a social event in Belgravia by a member of Brunei royalty who was his client.
According to him, Rosmah asked Samer Halimeh New York to help sponsor and showcase diamond jewellery at the Islamic Fashion Festival at the annual Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, since the jeweller had connections to members of the Saudi, Qatari, Abu Dhabi, Brunei and Malaysian royal families.
The 2011 event at the Knightsbridge Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which Halimeh described as “one of the most lavish VIP events ever held in London”, saw fundraising for Malaysian charities, where jewellery and fashion brands sponsored, showcased and sold luxury goods to guests.
“The success of the event led to Samer Halimeh New York providing jewellery for other events hosted or attended by Rosmah Mansor in London, Monte-Carlo and Kuala Lumpur.
“Between 2011 and 2015, the entourage of Rosmah Mansor purchased jewellery from Samer Halimeh New York, some of which was for themselves, some items as ‘gifts’ for the First Lady,” said Samer Halimeh New York.
Halimeh added that during that time, he and Rosmah and Najib introduced to each other wealthy business, celebrity and VIP contacts from the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and African oil and gas states. Rosmah, he said, was especially keen to be introduced to his contacts in the Saudi, Brunei and Qatari Royal families and his Hollywood celebrity clients.
He also said between 2015 and 2017, he remained in contact with Rosmah and her entourage on a personal basis, but he did not organise any events or parties with her.
The luxury jeweller said he regularly loaned royalty, billionaires, and heads of government millions of ringgit worth of jewellery on a “try-before-you-buy” basis, before they typically bought two to four pieces and returned the rest.
“The shipping of the 44 pieces of jewellery was done, on the specific request of the First Lady’s staff, via a route whereby in February 2018 the jeweller’s staff delivered by hand items to the First Lady’s staff at jewellery events being held in Singapore, Hong Kong and Qatar. The First Lady’s staff then brought them back to her in Kuala Lumpur,” said Samer Halimeh New York.
Samer Halimeh New York’s Beirut-based company, Global Royalty, sued Rosmah for the return of 44 pieces of jewellery that Malaysian authorities had seized in May in a corruption investigation on state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“All we are seeking is our jewellery collection being returned to its rightful legal owners, since the sale was never completed.
“This retail order might be for millions of pounds worth of stock, but just like any Net-a-Porter or Amazon order, it is mandatory procedure for a customer to return unwanted/ unpurchased goods to the retailer, the principal is the same; hence the court case,” said Halimeh.