Forfeiture action against Najib, his and Jho Low’s family over seized assets in first court mention

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, May 17, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, May 17, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — The Malaysian government’s bid to take over the assets seized by police from Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his family and others as evidence or as the subject matter for alleged money-laundering offences came up in court today for the first time.

In this forfeiture action, the Malaysian government is seeking the forfeiture of a long list of 66 items from Najib and 17 others, including his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, his children Nor Ashman Razak and Nooryana Najwa, his stepson Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz and Low Taek Jho’s mother Goh Gaik Ewe.

Deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Shukri Hussain today informed the court that the notice of motion for the forfeiture action had been served on all 18 respondents, except for Goh.

“The 13th respondent, we have not yet been able to serve, but in court, M. Puravalen is present,” he said, referring to Goh’s lawyer.

Shukri explained that the document was served at the last known address of the respondent who is not in Malaysia.

Puravalen, who together with Ragunath Kesavan represented Goh, told the court that they were present as they had found out about the matter through news reports.

It is understood that the Attorney General’s Chambers will be serving the document on the lawyers of Goh, who is better known as the mother of the Penang-born fugitive businessman popularly called Jho Low.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan fixed May 30, 2.30pm for the next case management.

Najib who was personally present today was represented by lawyers Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Muhammad Farhan Shafee, Nur Syahirah Hanapiah, while Rosmah and the three other family members who were not in court were represented by lawyers Azrul Z. Stork and Azamudin Abd Aziz.

The 14th and 15th respondents Ng Chong Hwa or Roger Ng and his wife Lim Hwee Bin were represented by Datuk Tan Hock Chuan and Cains Tan, while the seventh respondent Senijauhar Sdn Bhd and the eighth respondent Aiman Ruslan were personally present in court today.

In this forfeiture action, the seized assets involved include 263 handbags, 14 watches, 27 pairs of shoes, cash in multiple currencies including RM745,900 and £323,200 with no ownership stated in the court documents.

The assets also include a Nissan X-Trail vehicle, said to belong to Aiman, and 26 Nissan Urvan vans.

There is also a total of RM18,339,455.58 or over RM18.3 million seized from 29 bank accounts belonging to 10 of the 18 individuals and entities named (excluding Najib and his family), with such stated owners ranging from Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia, Goh, Ng and Lim.

The second forfeiture action

The Malaysian government had also filed a separate forfeiture action against OBYU Holdings Sdn Bhd on May 14, 2019.

This matter came up today before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, with deputy public prosecutor Fatnin Yusof confirming to reporters that the court fixed July 8 for the mention of this case.

Just like the first forfeiture action, the Malaysian government is through the public prosecutor seeking the forfeiture of the assets, as the public prosecutor is satisfied that these assets are the evidence or subject matter of alleged money-laundering offences or are proceeds from unlawful activities.

The Malaysian government is seeking the forfeiture of 11,991 pieces of jewellery, 401 watches and 16 watch accessories, 234 sunglasses and 306 handbags, a property in Kuala Lumpur and RM114,164,393.44 or over RM114 million seized from the company.

In raids on May 16 and May 17 last year, police had seized luxury items and other assets from six properties linked to Najib, with the total estimated value placed at between RM900 million to RM1.1 billion.

The items seized then included 12,000 jewellery, 567 handbags, 423 watches, 234 sunglasses, and RM116.7 million worth of cash in multiple currencies.

It is currently unclear if there are overlaps between the items seized in the May 2018 raids with the two forfeiture actions that came up before the court today.

This is not the first time that the Malaysian government has filed a forfeiture action over assets.

On March 29, the Malaysian government filed a forfeiture action against Jho Low’s father Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng, who is believed to be abroad.

The forfeiture action was filed to freeze Larry’s seven bank accounts containing a total of over RM48 million in order to forfeit the funds that were alleged to be linked to money-laundering activities.

That forfeiture action is also before judge Mohamed Zaini, who had previously in April fixed July 19 as the hearing for any third parties to appear in court to argue why the funds should not be forfeited to the government.

“The hearing today exposed the government’s attempt to railroad the asset seizure by flagrantly violating the rules and procedures intended to protect individuals’ fundamental rights. Once again the government has demonstrated utter contempt for fair and lawful process,” a representative of Jho Low said in an emailed statement to Malay Mail through his lawyers in the United States.

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