Lawyer: Lebanese jeweller dropped lawsuit against Rosmah pending jewellery identification, but can sue again

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 23, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 23, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — Lebanese jeweller Global Royalty Trading SAL had yesterday withdrew its lawsuit to claim almost RM60 million worth of jewellery back from Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, as the company wanted to wait for confirmation on whether those 44 pieces of jewellery are part of items seized by the government, the company’s lawyer said today.

Global Royalty’s lawyer Datuk David Gurupatham explained that the Lebanese jeweller could still sue Rosmah again, if the jewellery were not found to be part of over 11,000 pieces of jewellery that the government had seized and want to forfeit.

Gurupatham said the Lebanese jeweller was ready for the hearing of its lawsuit against Rosmah and the government which was due to start yesterday, but his client decided not to proceed and to drop the lawsuit for now due to recent developments.

Global Royalty had previously said it had passed the 44 pieces of jewellery in February 2018 to Rosmah on consignment, and that it is still the owner of the jewellery that were physically with Rosmah.

Gurupatham said it was currently unclear if the 44 pieces of jewellery are with Rosmah or with the government as part of items seized.

“But now there’s a very big question mark as to who has the jewellery,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Gurupatham said the government had previously intervened to be a party in the lawsuit against Rosmah, and that the government had then said the 44 pieces of jewellery had been seized and would be part of forfeiture proceedings under laws against money laundering.

Gurupatham said his client had previously at the invitation of the government looked at photographs of the jewellery seized by police, and had identified one of the 44 items as definitely being part of the seized jewellery and a few possible others.

Gurupatham said Rosmah had previously obtained a court order that allowed the appointment of an independent expert to verify if the 44 pieces of jewellery were among the police’s seized items, noting that the government had then appealed against this order.

Gurupatham said the High Court yesterday dismissed an application for the lawsuit to be put on hold pending the appeal, which meant the hearing for the lawsuit against Rosmah could start.

But Gurupatham said had highlighted uncertainties about the 44 pieces of jewellery’s location to the judge.

The lawyer said he had highlighted that police officer Superintendent Foo Wei Min had in a court affidavit said only one of the 44 pieces of jewellery claimed by Global Royalty was identified to be part of 12,000 pieces of seized jewellery, while the government gazette had mentioned more than 11,000 pieces of seized jewellery that the government wanted to forfeit from Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd.

The lawyer also said that he had highlighted that Rosmah’s name was not mentioned in the government gazette in relation to the more than 11,000 pieces of jewellery that the government wanted to forfeit, and that Obyu Holdings’ shareholders were allegedly not linked to Rosmah.

Gurupatham said this added to uncertainty over who would return or pay for the 44 pieces of jewellery to his client, also noting a new development late last week where Rosmah had filed an application for indemnity or to hold the government liable to pay for or return the jewellery.

Gurupatham said his client Global Royalty yesterday then decided to drop the lawsuit against Rosmah that was to be heard by High Court judge Wong Chee Lin, while waiting for the outcome of separate forfeiture proceedings involving Obyu to find out if the 44 pieces of jewellery are part of the case there.

“So what we decided was we agreed in chambers, all parties, that we (Global Royalty) would withdraw temporarily and wait for the forfeiture court to decide on these issues — as to whether the jewellery is hers; jewellery returned to us; returned to her or not; and whether there are actually 44 pieces,” he said.

“It was confirmed by all parties before the judge that it does not stop my client from suing to recover any amount of jewellery that he cannot recover or is not present before forfeiture proceedings,” he added.

The forfeiture case

In the separate forfeiture case before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, the Malaysian government is seeking the forfeiture of items seized from Obyu Holdings as part of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) probe.

The items that the government wants to forfeit from Obyu Holdings are 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.

Gurupatham said his client Global Royalty had previously already told the court that it would want to be a party to the forfeiture proceedings to stake a claim, with October 31 fixed for the filing of the bid to intervene.

“We are intervening so we can put a claim to say the 44 pieces are there and the 44 pieces should be returned to us and our client is the rightful owner and has not been paid,” he said, also noting however that it would have to be determined if the 44 pieces are part of the jewellery that the government wants to forfeit.

The actual location of the 44 pieces of jewellery would determine if Global Royalty would seek to recover them directly from the government or from Rosmah.

Others who reportedly expressed interest to be a third party to the forfeiture case against Obyu Holdings are Umno, Rosmah, her husband and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and their children Nooryana and Norashman.

The High Court has fixed November 29 to hear Rosmah’s application to receive photographs of the seized items and to physically inspect the items.

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