By Selangor Journal Staff
KUALA LUMPUR: Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Prime Minister Najib Razak was allowed to depart the Court Complex earlier around 12.30pm after paying RM500,000 as the first instalment of her RM2 million bail imposed over her 17 money laundering charges.
However, her passport was seized and she was also prohibited from meeting any of the prosecution’s witnesses, after the lead prosecutor claimed that she had approached a witness requesting a statement in her favour.
The 66-year-old claimed trial to the charges involving nearly RM7.1 million in illegal proceeds and must now come up with the remaining RM1.5 million on or before October 11.
This was after having spent a night in the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) lock-up, after she was arrested yesterday during her third appointment with MACC officials.
So how did the self-styled ‘First Lady of Malaysia’ get in this position to begin with? Below are the simplified chronology of Rosmah’s journey so far.
How she became ‘The First Lady of Malaysia’
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Born in 1951, Rosmah came from Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan. She studied sociology and anthropology before taking a master’s degree in the United States.
In 1987, Rosmah married Najib, who was then Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister. They have two children, and five stepchildren from earlier marriages.
After becoming the sixth Prime Minister in 2009, it was reported in 2011 that there exist a division under the Prime Minister’s Office devoted to the First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM). This had drawn irks among the opposition as well as the general public.
At this point on, speculations arose that Rosmah has a lot more at stake within the government rather than just being the wife of the Malaysia’s number one man.
Rise of scandals and controversies
From that point onwards, controversies upon controversies relating to Rosmah crops up, sparking anger among Malaysians who are mostly struggling to get by due to the increasing cost of living.
Often labelled by local and foreign media as a big spender, Wall Street Journal had reported credit charges of at least US$6 million between 2008 and 2015 on shopping sprees in London, New York on top of other locations.
In 2015, she was flamed by opposition and netizens upon complaining that she had to fork out RM1,200 for her hair. To make maters worse, during this time, the minimum wage for Malaysians sits at RM900 a month.
In 2017, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed that nearly US$30 million from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund was spent on jewellery for Rosmah, including the infamous US$27 million pink diamond necklace set, which Najib had denied receiving.
The fall of BN at GE14
After losing the 14th General Elections in May, to the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan lead by fourth and current Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Najib and Rosmah were blacklisted from leaving the country on May 12, after their alleged flight itinerary to Indonesia was leaked out.
Following a police report based on a video evidence showing an alleged attempt to hide Birkin bags that could potentially belong to Rosmah, the police on May 17 had raided three apartments in Kuala Lumpur owned by Najib’s family.
They carted 284 boxes containing luxury handbags and 72 bags filled with jewellery, cash of various denominations, watches and other valuables. Their biggest haul was loading five trucks with hundreds of orange boxes of Hermes Birkin bags, where each was said to cost between US$12,000 and US$300,000.
The police said the items were seized as it was suspected they were the subject matter of crimes under Malaysia’s Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
The probe begins
On June 5, she was called in by the MACC for the first time and was questioned for about five hours by MACC officers over a probe into SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.
On Sept 26, Rosmah was called in for a second round of questioning but this time it was directly on 1MDB. It was a slow grill as the session had lasted almost 13 hours.
On Oct 3, she was detained by the anti-graft agency after her third round of questioning where the arrest was made at MACC headquarters in Putrajaya, around 3.20pm.
She was taken to the sessions court today after spending a night in the MACC lock-up where she was formally charged with 17 offences related to money laundering to which she pleaded not guilty to all of them.
All the charges were proffered under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 (Act 613) as the alleged offences were committed prior to its amendment as the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.