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Diamond jewellery allegedly given to Australian model Miranda Kerr is at the centre of a billion-dollar investigation. Image courtesy: <a href="http://bit.ly/2tetqRJ" target="_blank">Instagram/Cartier</a>
Diamond jewellery allegedly given to Australian model Miranda Kerr is at the centre of a billion-dollar investigation. Image courtesy: Instagram/Cartier

Miranda Kerr jewellery thrust into billion-dollar political scam

An international financial scandal involving embezzled money, diamonds and an Australian supermodel has pushed jewellery into the political news spotlight.

The US Justice Department is seeking to claim assets valued at more than US$1.6 billion (AU$2.1 b) that were linked to alleged fraud at Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

According to The Wall Street Journal, among the assets are jewellery items valued at US$8 million (AU$10.5 m) belonging to Australian model Miranda Kerr.

The pieces were given to Kerr as gifts in 2014 by former partner Jho Low, who is accused of being one of the main offenders in the scam.

Low was reported to have purchased jewellery, including a US$1.29 million (AU$1.5 m) 11.72-carat heart-shaped diamond necklace by US jeweller Lorraine Schwartz, with money stolen from the 1MDB fund.

An 8.8-carat diamond pendant valued at about US$4.5 million (AU$5.9 m) and a pair of 11.72-carat diamond earrings with a matching necklace, ring and bracelet, totalling US$1.98 million (AU$2.5 m), were also said to be among the items under investigation.

Kerr’s gifts were only part of the more than US$200 million (AU$264 m) Low allegedly spent on jewellery between April 2013 and September 2014.

Low was also accused of using stolen funds to purchase high-end properties, artwork and other items for celebrities including actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

High stakes

The newspaper reported that the scheme was launched by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to spur economic development and the investigation has been described as the US Justice Department’s largest anti-kleptocracy case.

A total of $US4.5 billion (AU$5.9 b) in stolen proceeds has been identified, with 1MDB being investigated in several countries including the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Luxembourg. According to reports, Malaysia closed all but one of its investigations without finding any wrongdoing.

Low is believed to be a friend and confident of Razak.

Kerr reportedly handed the jewellery pieces to the US Justice Department on 23 June.

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Wednesday, 23 May, 2018 01:23am
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