Following arrest, former Malaysia PM Najib Razak faces 21 new money-laundering charges over 1MDB scandal

Najib is expected to be charged in court Thursday afternoon after being detained a day earlier by anti-corruption investigators. He has already been hit with seven charges over state fund 1MDB since unexpectedly losing power in May, but observers said the latest accusations against him are the most serious yet.

Agence France-Presse September 20, 2018 10:33:49 IST
Following arrest, former Malaysia PM Najib Razak faces 21 new money-laundering charges over 1MDB scandal

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's ex-leader Najib Razak is facing 21 money-laundering charges related to a transfer of $681 million into his bank account, police said Thursday, following his arrest over the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal.

Najib is expected to be charged in court Thursday afternoon after being detained a day earlier by anti-corruption investigators. He has already been hit with seven charges over state fund 1MDB since unexpectedly losing power in May, but observers said the latest accusations against him are the most serious yet.

Following arrest former Malaysia PM Najib Razak faces 21 new moneylaundering charges over 1MDB scandal

File image of Najib Razak. AP

Allegations that the politician and his cronies looted huge sums from the investment vehicle were a major factor in the shock defeat of his long-ruling coalition at the hands of a reformist alliance headed by Mahathir Mohamad.

Police questioned Najib Thursday morning. Afterward, deputy national police chief Noor Rashid Ibrahim said in a statement that "as many as 21 charges involving $681 million have been prepared".

The charges under anti-money laundering laws relate to receiving, using and the transfer of illegal funds, he said in a statement. Najib has already been charged with money-laundering, criminal breach of trust and abusing his position over claims he pocketed some $10 million from a former unit of 1MDB. He denies any wrongdoing.

However, the latest arrest related to a central allegation in the long-running scandal — that huge sums from the fund flowed into his bank accounts before a hotly contested election in 2013.

When reports about the bank transfers surfaced in 2015, they represented a turning point in the 1MDB scandal and dramatically raised pressure on Najib and his inner circle. The attorney-general later cleared Najib of any wrongdoing, saying the money was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family and closed down domestic investigations.

However, since returning for a second stint as premier, 93-year-old Mahathir has reopened investigations and vowed to bring Najib to justice. 1Malaysia Development Berhad was set up in 2009 and overseen by Najib. But the leader and his cronies were accused of looting vast sums from it and using the money to buy everything from real estate to pricey artworks.

The US Department of Justice, which is seeking to recover items allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB cash in the United States, estimates that $4.5 billion in total was looted from the fund.

Updated Date:

also read

From prisoner to PM: The roller-coaster journey of Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim
World

From prisoner to PM: The roller-coaster journey of Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar Ibrahim, who was named Malaysia's 10th prime minister by the nation's king and sworn in Thursday, trumped a Malay nationalist leader to clinch the top job after divisive general elections led to a hung Parliament

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim named next Malaysia PM
India

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim named next Malaysia PM

The 75-year-old was scheduled to be sworn in at 5 pm (0900 GMT), becoming the country's fourth leader in as many years.

Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim close to becoming Malaysia's next PM
World

Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim close to becoming Malaysia's next PM

Anwar’s reformist alliance won 2018 elections that led to the first regime change since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957. But the government collapsed after Muhyiddin defected and joined hands with UMNO to form a new government.