Malaysia's ex-PM faces barrage of charges, International, Phnom Penh Post

Leroy Wright
September 22, 2018

Fresh from being slapped with four charges of abuse of power and 21 charges of money laundering in relation to the theft of billions of dollars from a Malaysia state fund, Najib Razak, former prime minister of Malaysia, told reporters he wasn't a thief.

Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak is expected to face "nothing less" than 20 charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.

In a statement, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said it had arrested Najib as part of investigations into the 1MDB state investment fund and "the entry of 2.6 billion ringgit ($628m) into his personal account".

The US Department of Justice estimated that about $4.5 billion were diverted from 1MDB, of which about $1 billion would have been laundered in the US through the purchase of real estate, yachts, jewelery and works of art, among other goods. But Malaysians voted him out earlier this year and he has since come under close scrutiny.

The scandal first broke in 2015 when leaked documents showed that $681 million was transferred into Najib's bank account, leading to massive street rallies calling on him to resign. He repeated his assertion that the money was largely a political donation from Saudi Arabia's royal family ahead of 2013 national elections and that most was returned shortly after the polls.

Charges have piled up on Najib since he unexpectedly lost a general election in May to Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who reopened the 1MDB probe. Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho is described as a central figure in the scandal.

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When contacted, Najib's lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah confirmed the raid, adding that police took nothing from the house.

Shafee said his client is not a flight risk as he had voluntarily showed up for Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and police investigations, and had also given up his two global passports, before urging that the maximum bail amount be fixed at only RM500,000.

When asked if Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, could face charges, he said: "I'm not denying that". "It doesn't make sense", he said.

Najib has previously been charged with money-laundering, criminal breach of trust and abusing his position over claims he pocketed some $10m from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB.

"As we all know, the RM2.6 billion issue was used relentlessly to criticise and tarnish my name all this while".

However, U.S. authorities have said Tanore was controlled by an associate of Low and held funds diverted from 1MDB.

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