The US$27.3 million 22-carat pink heart-shaped diamond gifted to the wife of the unnamed “Malaysian Official 1 (MO1)” was one of many details in a US expose on 1MDB that has caught the public’s attention.
However, despite claiming the pink diamond and 27 different 18-carat gold necklaces and bracelets worth US$1.3 million were procured with money allegedly stolen from 1MDB, all these items were not on the US Department of Justice (DOJ) list of current forfeitures.
A check with the 251-page DOJ civil forfeiture suit filed last Thursday revealed neither Mrs MO1’s pink diamond nor the gold jewellery are among the 16 new assets the department wants to seize.
The only fashion accessories listed are the diamonds and jewellery Penang-born tycoon Jho Low had bought for his mother as well as Australian model Miranda Kerr.
It is unclear why the DOJ is not going after assets it claims had been purchased by Low for MO1’s wife using allegedly misappropriated funds.
However, other items of jewellery allegedly bought by Low and Eric Tan – whom Singapore courts have found to be Low’s alias – are also missing from the assets seizure list.
The DOJ claimed the duo had used funds siphoned from 1MDB to buy US$200 million in jewellery for themselves and their associates.
The jewellery named in DOJ’s assets seizure list – those given to Kerr and Low’s mother – are only worth a total of US$9.9 million.
Adding the cost of the jewellery given to MO1’s wife only brings the total up to US$38.5 million, which means US$161.5 million worth of allegedly ill-gotten jewellery bought by Low and Tan are not yet on the DOJ’s list.
Bought with ‘returned money’
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The 22-carat pink diamond given to MO1’s wife was paid for using US$620 million in allegedly misappropriated 1MDB funds, that her husband returned in Aug 2013.
The US$620 million had come from a US$681 million transfer in March 2013 – a transaction known to most Malaysians as the RM2.6 billion “donation”.
Last year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan identified MO1 as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
However Rahman stressed Najib was not named in the DOJ filing, claiming it showed the prime minister was not a subject of US investigation.
Najib has denied misusing public funds, while attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali has announced the former had committed no wrongdoing.
The premier and Apandi had claimed the US$681 million was a donation from a member of the Saudi royal family.
Apandi said US$620 million from that donation was later returned to the donor.
The DOJ however claimed the US$681 million given to MO1 had actually been stolen from 1MDB, and had passed through accounts controlled by Low.
They claimed the US$620 million also went back to Low’s accounts.
As for Mrs MO1’s 27 gold necklaces and bracelets, the DOJ claimed Low had paid for it using money allegedly siphoned from loans 1MDB had taken from Deutsche Bank.
The funds allegedly misappropriated from the Deutsche Bank loans also paid for some of the diamonds gifted to Kerr.