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.