Najib, Umno's RM114m claim in 1MDB-linked suit to be heard on Nov 25

Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid
·4-min read
Najib, Umno's RM114m claim in 1MDB-linked suit to be heard on Nov 25
Najib, Umno's RM114m claim in 1MDB-linked suit to be heard on Nov 25

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur has fixed Nov 25 to hear third-party claims by Najib Abdul Razak and Umno for RM114 million of the total RM680 million in cash and assets targeted in a 1MDB-linked forfeiture suit against Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin set the hearing date today, after allowing an application by the former prime minister and the political party for the court to hear their third-party claims separately from that of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor and Lebanese jeweller Global Royalty Trading SAL.

On Sept 3 last year, Najib, Rosmah, Umno and Global Royalty Trading filed their separate third-party claims in the suit against Obyu Holdings, seeking to forfeit RM680 million in cash, jewellery and other assets from the company.

Muhammad Jamil’s ruling today came after he allowed the separate third party hearing application by counsel Fazreen Hazrina Rahim.

Fazreen represented Umno and mentioned the matter on behalf of Najib (the former prime minister is represented by law firm Messrs Shafee & Co).

Earlier, the lawyer told the court that Umno and Najib are seeking a separate third-party hearing from that of Rosmah and Global Royalty Trading because of uncertainty as to when any joint third-party hearing involving all four third-party claimants could actually be heard.

The lawyer said this uncertainty was due to when representatives from Global Royalty Trading could actually come to Malaysia, due to present flight restrictions between the United Kingdom and Malaysia as part of measures to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, among others.

Fazreen said this was compounded by the still pending inspection by Rosmah and Global Royalty Trading to part of the seized items in the suit, as part of the preparation for their own respective third-party claims.

She said that if the separate third-party claims were not allowed for Najib and Umno, then this would prejudice the two parties.

“The third-party claims by Umno and Najib are only on the cash (RM114 million) that does not form part of the inspection (bid by Rosmah and Global Royalty Trading).

“The inspection (by Rosmah and Global Royalty Trading) is only for the jewellery (seized and now kept by the authorities, pending the outcome of the main forfeiture suit against Obyu Holdings).

“Third-party claimants Global Royalty Trading and Rosmah are not seeking to claim this (RM114 million) cash.

“We believe that it would not prejudice other parties (including the prosecution, which is the applicant in the main RM680 million forfeiture suit) if the third-party claims (by Najib and Umno) for the cash amount is heard first (before the third-party claims by Rosmah and Global Royalty Trading),” Fazreen submitted.

However, DPP Faten Hadni Khairuddin objected to the separate third-party hearing bid because the cash or items sought by all four third-party claimants are all tied to the same root offence, whether it be cash, jewellery, handbags or watches, among others.

Obyu Holdings is the owner of a condominium unit in Kuala Lumpur, where several 1MDB-linked cash and other items were purportedly seized by the authorities shortly after the 14th general election in 2018.

“The facts of the case are the same and the investigation (by the authorities) are the same. It has to do with the seized items, which originated from the same predicate offence,” Faten said.

The DPP is seeking for the court to hear all four third-party claims together, rather than separately.

Faten added that the inspection of the seized items could not be carried out at the moment as Global Royalty Trading is currently in the United Kingdom and that the delay is beyond the control of all parties, among others.

However, judge Muhammad Jamil allowed the application for a separate hearing of the third-party claims by Najib and Umno, ruling that all four third-parties are seeking to claim different things from the seized items.

“There are four different third-party claims,” the judge said, adding that Umno and Najib’s third-party claims are only for the RM114 million cash in the suit.

“The hearing of the third-party claims by Umno and Najib can be heard separately from the other third-party claims (by Rosmah and Global Royalty Trading).

“It would not prejudice the applicant (the prosecution) as the court would only order the return of the seized items to the third-party claimants if the court is satisfied that the third parties have fulfilled the requirements under Section 61 of the Act (Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act).

“The hearing of the third-party claims by Umno and Najib on the cash (RM114 million) can be heard first, without the need to wait for the other third parties (Rosmah and Global Royalty Trading) that are still pending the inspection of the (seized) jewellery,” the judge added, before setting the Nov 25 hearing date.

The government filed the forfeiture suit against Obyu Holdings – owned by alleged Najib associate Bustari Yusof – over the 11,991 items of jewellery among others that the police had seized from properties occupied by Najib's family at the Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur in 2018.

Editor's note: Based on legal advice, the commenting feature for the above article has been disabled.