Malaysian first lady Rosmah Mansor in $US6m credit card splurge

Malaysian first lady Rosmah Mansor in $US6m credit card splurge

A major financial scandal swirling around the Malaysian Prime Minister is drawing fresh attention to his glamorous wife, Rosmah Mansor, who newly revealed documents show has racked up at least $US6 million ($8m) in credit card charges in recent years — ­despite having no known source of income beyond her husband’s ­salary.

At an anticorruption rally last month in Kuala Lumpur, hundreds of students, young professionals and other demonstrators took to the streets behind a cardboard caricature of a meticulously coiffured woman carrying a Hermes handbag, demanding an investigation into Ms Rosmah’s finances.

“She said she saved that money since she was small. That is impossible,” said Anis Syafiqah Mohd Yusuf, a 24-year-old student from the University of ­Malaya who helped organise the protest.

Ms Rosmah’s jewel-bedecked public appearances have long made her a polarising figure in this relatively poor, Southeast Asian country. She is the only child of schoolteachers, has not had a regular paying job in years and her husband, Prime Minister Najib Razak, is a longtime bureaucrat with an annual salary of $US100,000.

Ms Rosmah, 64, says she has a habit of saving. “I have bought some jewellery and dresses with my own money. What is wrong with that?” she wrote in her 2013 autobiography.

But allegations that Mr Najib received hundreds of millions of dollars siphoned between 2009 and 2015 from ­1Malaysia Development Berhad, a state investment fund he set up, are bringing renewed scrutiny of her.

Bank-transfer records reviewed by the Journal showed that large sums from 1MDB wound up in the Prime Minister’s personal accounts via intermediaries.

The records were also cited in a civil lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department in July seeking the seizure of more than $US1 billion of assets from people connected to Mr Najib. The lawsuit doesn’t name Mr Najib, but a person with direct knowledge of the investigation said the “Malaysian Official 1” in the complaint was Mr Najib.

Mr Najib has denied wrong­doing. His lawyer general, without releasing documentation, described the money as a legal political donation from Saudi Arabia, most of which he said was returned. The Saudis have offered only vague statements.

The Wall Street Journal reported this year, citing banking documents, that at least $US1m in purchases made by Ms Rosmah at jewellery and fashion stores in ­Europe and the US in 2014 were paid for by Mr Najib using credit cards that drew on 1MDB funds. The couple declined to comment at the time. New documents seen by the Journal show that those expenses are part of at least $US6m in spending by Ms Rosmah between 2008 and 2015 on clothing, shoes and jewellery from London’s Harrods department store, Saks Fifth Avenue of New York and elsewhere.

Ms Rosmah hasn’t commented on that spending. Attempts to reach her and Mr Najib for this article were unsuccessful.

The Prime Minister’s office last year said the first family’s spending was commensurate with Mr Najib’s inheritance from his ­father, a former prime minister. His four brothers later denied their father had left a big estate, without giving details. Mr Najib issued ­another statement describing his father as frugal and a man of integrity, without addressing the inheritance.

When the 1MDB scandal broke in July last year, Ms Rosmah advised her husband to tough it out, according to a person who knows the family. “My advice (to Mr Najib) is to be very, very patient as this is a test from Allah,” she said at an April event, according to local media reports.

The person also said Ms Rosmah introduced her husband to Jho Low, the Malaysian financier who US officials, in their lawsuit, charge was at the centre of the alleged 1MDB scandal.

Ms Rosmah has longstanding ties to Mr Low: a decade ago, Mr Low helped Ms Rosmah and her son set up a British Virgin Islands company, according to Malaysian investigation documents seen by the Journal.

Attempts to reach Mr Low for comment were unsuccessful.

Malaysian first lady Rosmah Mansor in $US6m credit card splurge
Tom Wright
The Wall Street Journal


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for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

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fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
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there is LIBERTY.

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