Najib: Chanel Hawaii buy during Obama golf meet, RM3.3m gift recipient a ‘queen’

Ida Lim

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former US president Barack Obama get in their golf cart after playing on the 18th green at the Clipper Golf course in Hawaii in this file picture dated December 25, 2014. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak today said a 2014 bill worth around half a million ringgit at luxury brand Chanel’s store in Honolulu, Hawaii was during his trip to play golf with then US president Barack Obama.

Najib took to his Facebook account again to explain himself over big expenses allegedly linked to him, just a day or two after his Monday night claim that the 2014 bill of over RM3.3 million in one day using his credit cards was for an unnamed foreign “royalty” at a Swiss luxury jeweller’s store.

Najib this time referred to US publication Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) 2016 report of his alleged private expenses worth US$15 million from his private bank accounts —— that allegedly received funds originating from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

One of the luxury expenses linked by WSJ to Najib then was the use of his credit card for US$130,625 at Chanel’s outlet in Honolulu on December 22, 2014, which the news report said was two days before Najib played golf with Obama.

Najib today appeared to concede WSJ’s 2016 report regarding the timing details surrounding the shopping bill, which a Malaysian news outlet had then converted to over RM512,000 presumably according to the currency exchange rate then.

“This RM512,000 to buy Chanel goods in Hawaii was done during the time I played golf with President Obama and met with his entourage then. More will be explained when this issue arises in court soon,” he wrote in the Malay language in a Facebook post.

He offered no additional details of the Chanel purchase, but instead spoke about the criticisms he had faced for playing golf with Obama during massive floods in Kelantan then.

Najib said the agreement to golf with Obama had been fixed months ahead and insisted that the meeting also revolved around discussions of economic and security issues, asserting that he had prior to the Hawaii trip monitored flood preparation efforts and handed over flood disaster operations to then National Security Council chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“And a day after I played golf with Obama, I departed from Hawaii to Kelantan,” he said.

Najib’s Facebook post comes after a witness in his ongoing corruption trial confirmed on Monday that Najib’s two credit cards at AmBank were used for 10 separate transactions totalling €763,500 or over RM3.3 million at Swiss jeweller De Grisogono’s store in Italy in August 2014, as well as for US$130,625 on December 22, 2014 at Chanel in Honolulu (equivalent to RM466,330.11 at that time) and RM127,017.46 on January 4, 2015 at Shangri-la Hotel in Bangkok.

The WSJ’s 2016 report which Najib referred to had also mentioned a €750,000 purchase in August 2014 at an Italian branch of De Grisogono using Najib’s credit card.

In the same Facebook post today, Najib reiterated that he had in his Facebook post on Monday already explained the RM3.3m purchase, but this time offered a further clue on the identity of the alleged “royalty” from an unnamed country that received the purported gift.

“The queen of that country’s royalty wrote to my wife as the jewellery was for her and her entourage.

“The name of the recipient and which country will be disclosed in court soon,” he said without offering further details.

It is unclear when the promised unveiling of the purported receiver of the gift worth RM3.3 million would be disclosed in court, or whether the upcoming prosecution witnesses in Najib’s trial would be testifying or questioned on the matter.

Najib’s trial over his alleged abuse of position, money-laundering and criminal breach of trust in relation to RM42 million of funds belonging to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd is currently at the prosecution stage, and Najib will be able to call in his own defence witnesses if he is called to enter his defence after the prosecution stage.

The 50th prosecution witness testified today in Najib’s trial, which will resume tomorrow.

Among other things, Najib’s Facebook post today also touched on WSJ’s 2016 report’s mention of a US$56,000 spending allegedly linked to Najib’s accounts on June 28, 2011 at a Kuala Lumpur car dealer named Signature Exotic Cars, before referring to a local news outlet’s report mentioning RM220,000 as the converted figure presumably based on currency exchange rates then.

“I think RM220,000 is also not enough to buy Velfire (sic) or Alphard in Malaysia. Certainly not also a Bugatti or Mercedes car. So, which luxury car? Although the company is named Signature Exotic Car, they are actually a seller of used and reconditioned cars,” he claimed without commenting further on the purchase.

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