Malaysia’s former first lady in lawsuit over $14.8m jewelry

Rosmah Mansor, wife of Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak, leaves a courtroom in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 4, 2018. (REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Malaysia’s former first lady in lawsuit over $14.8m jewelry

  • Global Royalty claims that 44 high-end pieces of jewelry worth $14.8 million were consigned to former Malaysian first lady Rosmah Mansor from previous years as a marketing strategy.
  • The Beirut-based firm is an exclusive jeweler that has clients who are celebrities, politicians and members of royal families, including Angelina Jolie, Naomi Campbell, Oprah Winfrey and wealthy Middle Easterners.

KUALA LUMPUR: Lebanese jeweler Global Royalty Trading SAL — a firm that specializes in selling high-end jewelry pieces — is suing Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The international jewelry supplier filed the suit at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on June 26 against the former first lady, who it claimed was a “long-standing customer.”

The Beirut-based firm is seeking a declaration from the court that the firm is “the rightful owner” of the consigned jewelry pieces that the Malaysia government seized at Najib Razak’s home in May.

It claimed that 44 high-end pieces of jewelry worth $14.8 million were consigned to Rosmah Mansor from previous years, according to a court document seen by the online portal Malaysiakini. The jewelry pieces included diamond-studded earrings, rings, tiaras, necklaces and bracelets. 

“It is a marketing strategy. Rosmah is well-connected, and by leaving her a few baubles she is bound to show it to her girlfriends who may try it with no pressure as experienced in the shop,” said Karen Hoisington, a Singapore-based socialite and brand consultant.

Global Royalty is an exclusive jeweler that has clients who are celebrities, politicians and members of royal families, including Angelina Jolie, Naomi Campbell, Oprah Winfrey and wealthy Middle Easterners.

In the statement of claim, the jewelry pieces would be sent to Rosmah “according to her demand.” She would then evaluate, purchase and then pay for items via a third party. Those that were not chosen would be returned.

“When a customer knows she (Rosmah) can resell her item, she’s going to be willing to pay a little more for it. It’s a window. There’s an ability to see where the desire is,” said Hoisington, adding that the luxury consignment is a growing business that includes designer handbags, luxury watches, luxury cars and red-carpet gowns. 

“Remember in the movie 'Pretty Woman,' Richard Gere gave Julia Roberts a Harry Winston necklace to wear to a party. That is consigned out. If he wanted to buy it he can, but it’s a great advertisement for them to drive customers to their retail shop,” she said.

The Lebanese jeweler alleged that Rosmah or her agent would receive the jewelry pieces in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Dubai.

A “handover memorandum” with terms and conditions would accompany the jewelry consignment. Through memorandum number 926, dated Feb. 10 this year, Rosmah Mansor was alleged to have received the jewelry, which she acknowledged receiving in a letter dated May 22, though the pieces are no longer in her possession.

Hoisington told Arab News that the practice is more common with the “new rich,” who would rather get an item to “show off to others” and have “a feel of the brand.”

The former first lady is embroiled in a scandal involving the misappropriation of 1MDB state funds, in which $700 million of the alleged amount was found in the personal account of Najib Razak.

Since the new government of Malaysia took office on May 10, the 1MDB corruption case has been reopened by the government and the police have recovered cash and luxury items worth millions from the couple’s homes. The jewelry owned by the Lebanese jeweler was said to be part of the seized goods.

“With this investigation, it is hard to ascertain. There is no paper trail. One is dealing with a very professional and experienced couple. They are masters at this and stay just under the law,” Hoisington said.

Rosmah Mansor through her lawyers on Tuesday denied the lawsuit accusation by the Lebanese jeweler about receiving the jewelry consignment.

 

 

 


Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

Updated 19 November 2018
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Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

  • US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors
  • Raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation

HELSINKI: Social media in Finland was ablaze with bemused comments on Monday after US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors.
Speaking to reporters during the weekend while in California to see the impact of devastating forest fires, the US president again blamed forest management, but said Finland had the answer.
Trump cited the Finnish president as telling him Finns “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things (in the forest), and they don’t have any problem.”
However the Nordic country’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper on Sunday that he had no recollection of raking being mentioned when the pair met in Paris a week ago.
“I told him that Finland is a country covered in forests, but we also have a good warning system and network,” the president said.
Finnish social media users were quick to pile in, describing Trump’s comments as “rake news” and posting pictures of themselves brandishing the garden implement.
By late Sunday, raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation which is 72 percent covered by forests, predominantly of pine, birch and fir.
Meanwhile Yrjo Niskanen, head of emergency preparedness at Finland’s national forest center, said the US president may have been referring to the practice of removing branches and loose material left in the forest after logging.
But he pointed out that this is not done with a rake — and the wood is collected for energy production.
“I’ve never thought before that it could be removed because of the fire risk, that’s not mentioned in any forestry manuals. It’s taken away purely for business reasons,” Niskanen told the Iltalehti newspaper.