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COMMENT | Disturbing questions over Najib’s ultra-luxury gifts

COMMENT | What business do prominent tycoons such as Francis Yeoh and Desmond Lim have making gifts of watches worth more than half a million ringgit each to the then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak? And what were they expecting in return?

Were there any offences committed during the process? Could it be a form of bribery for favours done? Should Najib have accepted such expensive gifts as the PM of Malaysia who wields considerable executive powers over many decisions? Must he declare the gifts and pay tax on them?

Should businessmen give such gifts knowing that the man they were giving them to has the ability to decide or have a major influence in deciding many projects in which they may be involved? Isn't it time that givers of bribery were also brought to court and not just the takers?

The story about the watches emerged in court hearings relating to the forfeiture of items held by Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor which were seized in a raid at the Pavilion Residences condominium in May 2018. The Pavilion group of companies is controlled by Desmond Lim.

According to The Edge, Najib’s lawyers have submitted that three of the seven Richard Mille watches that were seized by police in the Pavilion condo raid in May 2018, worth a total of RM4.514 million, were gifts to the former prime minister.

The Edge report said: “Two of the watches, one costing RM1.58 million and the other RM500,400, were bought by Datuk (now Tan Sri) Yeoh Seok Ping of YTL fame, [lawyers] Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and Tania Scivetti submitted during hearing of a forfeiture application in the High Court on Monday (Sept 26).

“Scivetti said the RM500,400 watch was paid for by Yeoh via Taman Equine (M) Sdn Bhd, while the RM1.58 million watch was paid via Sykt Pembenaan Yeoh Tiong Lay Sdn Bhd.

“The third watch, costing RM419,300, was paid for by Datuk (now Tan Sri) Desmond Lim, the lawyer said.”

The lawyers were essentially asking for the return of the watches since they were gifts...

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