Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today that he gave his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, a watch, priced at US$130,625 (RM466,330), for her birthday on December 10.
Najib, 66, said he paid for the watch using his credit card at a Chanel boutique in Honolulu, in the United States, on Dec 22, 2014.
He said he bought the watch during a family holiday to the US in December 2014 while, at the same time, he also played golf with then US president Barack Obama.
“The meeting over the golf game was widely reported in the media,” Najib said, adding that he returned to Malaysia shortly after that when he was told of the Kelantan floods.
The Pekan Member of Parliament also told the court that he spent RM127,017.46 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok in January 2015, which was paid through his credit card, when he was in Thailand on a private vacation.
“Although it was a private vacation, I also took the opportunity to meet with my Thai colleague, Prayut Chan-o-Cha, to discuss how the Thai government can help us in addressing the floods in Malaysia,’ he said, adding that the amount included RM120,000 for his accommodation, as well as that of his support staff, and other unexpected expenses.
He said the transaction at the Shangri-La Hotel was made after his visit to Kota Bharu, Kelantan, to check on the flood situation there, and then proceeded to Bangkok for a holiday.
Najib said he had the right to make the claim for the expenses incurred from the government as he was working during the vacation.
“But I chose to bear all the expenses on my own since I do not want to complicate matters,” he added.
On the 763,5000 euros (RM3,282,734) spent at a jeweller’s shop in Sardinia, Italy, on Aug 8, 2014, Najib said it was for purchase of jewellery as a gift to a wife of a Middle East dignitary.
“De Grisigono is a luxury jewellery and watch expert in Italy. The purchase made there in August 2014 was with regard to jewellery bought as a gift for Sheikh Ahmed’s wife (Noor Abdulaziz Abdulla Turki Al-Subaie),” he said.
Najib said Sheikh Ahmed and Noor Abdulaziz had previously also bought gifts for Rosmah and him and it was only appropriate that he reciprocated.
“Based on that premise, we cannot reciprocate with anything less than what suits their position and generosity towards us.
“I did not want to use public funds to purchase the gifts and considering that I have an existing account, it was appropriate that I used the account instead of public funds..,” he said.
Najib said he believed the gesture would benefit Malaysians and Noor Abdulaziz had later sent a thank-you note.
Asked if he believed he had the right to spend the funds, which he claimed to be donations, on luxuries, Najib answered in the affirmative.
“As I have stated earlier, I believe I retain full discretion on how to spend the funds in my account.
“I felt that the purchase we made at De Grisigino is allowed from a diplomatic point of view,” he added.
Najib is facing six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.
He is also accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.