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article imageMalaysian ex-PM's wife in three-hour grilling over graft claims

By M JEGATHESAN (AFP)     Jun 5, 2018 in World

The wife of Malaysia's ousted prime minister Najib Razak was on Tuesday questioned for more than three hours by the nation's anti-corruption agency over a massive financial scandal involving a state sovereign wealth fund.

The spotlight is now on Rosmah Mansor after police last month raided two condominiums linked to Najib and his family as part of an investigation into his role in the 1MDB scandal -- seizing bags of cash, jewellery and hundreds of designer handbags.

Rosmah, 66, is widely reviled in Malaysia for her reported luxurious tastes and imperious manner. She last month issued a statement lashing out at media coverage of the police raids, calling them a "premature public trial".

Known for her love of luxury clothes and handbags, Rosmah arrived for questioning in a three-car convoy.

Following her departure from the agency headquarters, her lawyers said anti-graft investigators had completed recording her statement after a session lasting over three hours during which she gave her "utmost cooperation".

The nature of the questioning was not made public.

But Abdul Razak Idris, former investigations and intelligence director at the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), earlier told AFP that Rosmah would likely "be asked to reveal her bank accounts and explain about the source of the cash and jewellery found by police in two condominiums recently."

Billions of dollars were allegedly stolen from the 1MDB fund -- founded by Najib -- in a sophisticated fraud that stretched from Singapore to Switzerland, with the money used to buy items ranging from Picasso artworks to high-end real estate.

Both Najib and the fund have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

- Luxury-loving -

Rosmah spent nearly five hours in the building before leaving in a silver Mercedes Benz.

"Our client will extend further cooperation as and when sought by the agency," lawyer K. Kumaraendran told gathered media in a prepared statement.

Former prime minister Najib has seen a swift fall from grace since he was defeated by a reformist coalition led by his former mentor, Mahathir Mohamad, in elections last month.

Voter anger at claims of corruption tied to Najib and a rise in living costs were among major factors in the shocking defeat of the ruling coalition, which had been in power for over six decades.

Najib himself was questioned by anti-graft officers twice last month. Both he and his wife have been banned from leaving the country.

The luxury-loving Rosmah is often compared with Imelda Marcos, who left behind more than a thousand pairs of shoes after her husband, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, was ousted in 1986.

In 2015, Rosmah told a public gathering that she paid 1,200 ringgit ($300) to colour her hair, angering Malaysians as the minimum wage was then just 900 ringgit a month.

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