This article titled “Miranda Kerr asked to relinquish jewels linked to Malaysian laundering case” was written by Oliver Holmes south-east Asia correspondent, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 21st June 2017 14.01 UTC
Australian model Miranda Kerr should hand over millions of dollars in gifted jewels that were allegedly purchased using money stolen from a fund established by Malaysia’s prime minister, a Malaysian NGO has said.
US prosecutors say the jewellery — including a $3.8m (£3m) 8.88 carat diamond pendant from New York-based designer Lorraine Schwartz — was gifted to Kerr by Jho Low, a financier at the heart of the corruption scandal that has engulfed the Malaysian government.
SABM Australia, a nongovernmental organisation based in Melbourne that says it advocates for enhanced governance in Malaysia, said it was “not alleging any wrongdoing by Miranda Kerr” but called for her to “hand over all jewels gifted to her”.
The US justice department says more than $4.5bn has been stolen from the 1MDB fund and is seeking to seize assets including a Picasso painting given to actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the rights to two Hollywood films — The Wolf of Wall Street and Dumb and Dumber To.
The films were produced by Red Granite, which was founded by the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak’s, stepson, Riza Aziz.
US authorities have not charged Jho Low. Kerr and DiCaprio have not been accused of any crime. DiCaprio has begun proceedings to transfer ownership of the $3.2m (£2.5m) artwork to the US government.
The spokesman said DiCaprio had accepted the gifts to raise funds in an auction for his environmental foundation.
SABM Australia called on Kerr to follow DiCaprio’s example.
It said it also wanted Australian “police to investigate if any of the stolen funds have found their way to purchase Australian assets including property, works of art and jewellery”.
In a civil complaint, US authorities have accused Jho Low of laundering more than $400m stolen from state fund 1MDB through an account in the United States.
Jho Low had spent millions of the money on jewellery for Kerr, requesting Schwartz engrave necklaces, bracelets and rings with the model’s initials.
One 11.72-carat heart-shaped diamond was presented to Kerr, who lives in Los Angeles, as a Valentine’s Day present.
Another, a $1.9m (£1.5m) matching diamond jewellery set, was given to Kerr “as a gift during a multi-day excursion aboard his new yacht the Equanimity, in late July and early August of 2014”. The luxury mega-yacht, capable of carrying up to 26 guests and up to 33 crew members and includes a helicopter landing pad and cinema, is also up for seizure.
Kerr separated from her ex-husband Orlando Bloom in 2013 and is believed to have dated Jho Low in 2014. She recently married Snap Inc co-founder Evan Spiegel.
The style icon’s own jewellery line, in collaboration with Swarovski, starts at $69. Kerr did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Razak has denied any wrongdoing. US prosecutors alleged nearly $30m (£23.8m) stolen from 1MDB was also used to buy jewellery for the wife of “Malaysian Official 1”, which refers to Najib.
“We simply will not allow the United States to be a place where corrupt individuals can expect to hide assets and lavishly spend money that should be used for the benefit of citizens of other nations,” Kenneth Blanco, acting assistant attorney general, said in a statement last week.
1MDB said on Friday that it had never been contacted in relation to the case.
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