Jeweller’s case against Rosmah given greenlight

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 – The government has another six months to confirm whether the 44 pieces of jewellery worth US$14.79 million (about RM60 million) which were allegedly sent by a Lebanese jeweller to Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor earlier this year have been seized by the police.

The jewellery, belonging to Global Royalty Trading SAL, was alleged by Rosmah to be part of the 12,000-piece haul which the police made when they raided premises linked to her and her husband, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last May.

The court agreed that the police have 12 months under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFPUAA) to investigate the seized jewellery. This was after the police produced an affidavit that they cannot confirm if the 44 pieces of jewellery are with them.

Lawyer Datuk David Gurupatham addressing journalist at an earlier court proceeding on the case

“In the absence of confirmation that the police have seized the 44 pieces of jewellery, the court cannot apply AMLA, and the case should proceed to trial,” Global Royalty’s lawyer, Datuk David Gurupatham, told NMT.

The suit by Global Royalty, which is based in Beirut, will proceed and Rosmah will have to come to court and testify as to how these goods came to be seized.

Among the issues to be decided at trial is how Rosmah brought the 44 pieces into the country as the jeweller has pleaded that it was received overseas and subject to forfeiture by her actions.

Police need experts to identify 44 pieces of jewellery

In the police’s affidavit, Supt Foo Wei Min, head of the Bukit Aman Special Investigation Division for Money Laundering, said the police are not yet in a position to state on oath if the 44 pieces of jewellery mentioned in the suit brought by the Lebanese jeweller against Rosmah, formed part of the seized jewellery, “as we still have six months until May 2019 to verify with the assistance of an expert”.

The law provides that where any property is seized under AMLA and there is no prosecution or conviction for an offence of money-laundering, the public prosecutor may, before the expiration of 12 months from the date of seizure, apply to a judge of the High Court for an order of forfeiture of that property.

Court: Onus on Rosmah to prove she doesn’t have jewels

On Oct 11, an application was filed by Rosmah to strike out the claim by Global Royalty firm over the 44 pieces of jewellery.

The civil suit by Rosmah was filed to ascertain whether the 44 pieces of jewellery were still with her or was now in the possession of the government, as she had claimed these jewels were seized by the police.

However, Rosmah’s application was dismissed by the Kuala Lumpur High Court with costs. The court had ruled that since Rosmah was asserting that the jewellery was seized, the onus is on her to prove it.

Following the dismissal, Gurupatham had been quoted as saying that if the jewellery was not among the seized items, it would be considered as still being in Rosmah’s possession.

“Rosmah will have to return the jewels or pay the price of the items together with damages and costs, should the court eventually rule in favour of my client.

“However, if the jewellery were indeed lawfully seized, she can try to strike out the case again,” he said.

Government named second defendant

In today’s trial however, the court ruled that Rosmah could still file a fresh application to strike out the suit by Global Royalty if it is indeed proven that the 44 pieces of jewellery have been seized.

The government has also been named as the second defendant in the suit by the Lebanese jeweller after it succeeded in its application to be an intervenor. Initially, Rosmah was the sole defendant.

The government had sought to be part of the Global Royalty Trading suit against Rosmah on the grounds that the jewellery belonged to the government and was bought with stolen money.

Rosmah acknowledged receiving consignment

Global Royalty sued Rosmah on June 26, demanding that she return the 44 pieces of jewellery allegedly sent to her for viewing or to pay the price for all the items totalling US$14.79 million.

The statement of claim filed originally by the firm stated that while Rosmah had acknowledged in writing to having received the consignment, they were told that the items were no longer in her custody.

The case against Rosmah has been set for March 4-5, 2019.

Long-standing customer of international jeweller

It was previously reported that Global Royalty had alleged in its statement of claim that Rosmah was a long-standing customer and that it would send consignments of jewellery to her on her demand.

She would then evaluate and purchase the items which she paid on her own or through a third party.

The firm added that Rosmah would sometimes loan the jewellery, with the receiving party being herself or her agent in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Dubai.

Rosmah, in her statement of defence filed on July 23, denied purchasing any of the 44 pieces of jewellery and said they were delivered for her viewing by virtue of the fact that she was the wife of the prime minister of Malaysia on the plaintiff’s own accord and volition and without there being any obligation for Rosmah to purchase the jewellery.

Next mention date for government to revert on this case is February 11, 2019.

– NMT