Malaysian Ex-PM Najib to Appear in Court over 1MDB Scandal


Kuala Lumpur, MINA — Malaysia’s ex-premier Najib Razak was to appear in a Kuala Lumpur court Thursday to face fresh charges related to the 1MDB development fund scandal, after being re-arrested a day earlier, DPA reported.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said Wednesday the former leader had been arrested in connection with the deposit of 2.6 billion ringit (628 million dollars) into his personal bank account.

Najib will be formally charged with 21 counts of money laundering, police added in a statement early Thursday.

He faces nine counts of receiving the proceeds of money laundering, five counts of using the illegal funds and seven counts of transferring those funds to other entities.

Najib, who has denied all allegations against him, has already been hit with charges including abuse of power and criminal breach of trust relating to SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB.

The 65-year-old has previously said the huge deposit was a donation from a Saudi royal prince.

Officially called the 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the 1MDB state fund is the subject of a sweeping international investigation by at least six countries – including the United States, Singapore and Switzerland – over alleged money laundering and graft by high-level officials.

US prosecutors say officials misappropriated some 4.5 billion dollars in total from the fund.


Key factor in Najib’s unexpected defeat

The scandal was a key factor in Najib’s unexpected defeat in May elections.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who had been one of Najib’s most high profile accusers, reopened an investigation into corruption at 1MDB after his election victory.

The scandal first became public in 2015, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Malaysian investigators had traced almost 700 million dollars – at then exchange rates – that had been deposited into Najib’s personal bank account via banks, companies and agencies linked to 1MDB.

Najib was released on a 1-million-ringgit bail by a Kuala Kumpur court after his first arrest in July.

He and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, who has also been implicated in the scandal, have been barred from leaving the country.

Cash, jewellery, luxury handbags and watches totalling an estimated 1 billion ringgit were seized by investigators from multiple Najib-linked private residences in May as part of the probe.

Najib’s trial is due to start early next year. (T/RS5/RS1)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)