Malaysia ex-PM Najib faces salvo of charges over $681M bank balance

Elias Hubbard
September 21, 2018

He pleaded not guilty to four abuse-of-power charges and 21 money-laundering charges.

"These new charges are significant because prosecutors allege the money flowed directly from 1MBD, the state investment fund that Najib had set up", said Al Jazeera's Florence Looi, reporting from Kuala Lumpur.

He added that the arrest and charge sheets were handled together with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC).

Mahathir, 93, in his second stint as premier after coming out of retirement to take on his one-time protege Najib, has reopened probes into 1MDB that were shut down by the former government, and vowed to bring Najib to justice.

Najib Razak, Malaysia's former prime minister, had been charged with 21 counts of money-laundering in a case linked to a multi-million dollar fraud scandal centred around a state fund.

Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi allowed the bail payments be made over a period, as long as it was settled by Sept 28.

Najib has faced money laundering allegations since the Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 that $681 million was transferred to a personal bank account of the then-prime minister.

The U.S. Justice Department is pursuing more than $1 billion in assets related to "an worldwide conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from" the Malaysian investment fund.

Despite growing calls to step down, he clung to power by cracking down on dissent and the media.

The Department of Justice has said a total of $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB through a complex web of transactions and fraudulent shell companies.

Najib was previously slapped with seven charges - three for criminal breach of trust, three for money laundering and one for abuse of power - which are tied to an alleged transfer of RM42 million into his personal account from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB. Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho is described as a central figure in the scandal.

"His return of money was so soon after the 2013 election... because he had finished with the expenses in relation to election funding".

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

Najib's lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, described the charges against his client as "bizarre". "It doesn't make sense", he said.

Last Monday, Najib released documents to support his claim that the controversial RM2.6 billion deposited into his bank account was a donation from Saudi royalty.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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