Sunday 9 December 2018

Former PM of Malaysia held in corruption scandal probe

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. Photo: Getty Images
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. Photo: Getty Images

Nicola Smith

Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, was arrested yesterday over his alleged links to a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal involving a state investment fund that he founded almost a decade ago.

He will be charged in court this morning, an investigating task force said in a statement after he was picked up by anti-corruption officers at his residence in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Najib and Rosmah Mansoor, his wife, have been barred from leaving the country since he lost an election in May to Mahathir Mohamad, his former mentor, who swiftly reopened an investigation into the alleged plundering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund.

Properties linked to the Najib family have been raided by police officers, and Datuk Seri Amar Singh, head of the police commercial crime division, told reporters last week that the retail costs of all the items taken from six properties totalled $224m-$273m, (€192m-€234m) the biggest seizure in Malaysian history.

The haul included 12,000 pieces of jewellery, featuring a diamond necklace worth more than €1m, along with 567 handbags, 234 pairs of sunglasses and 423 watches.

Mr Najib said most of the items seized from his houses were gifts given to his wife and daughter and had nothing to do with 1MDB.

The former prime minister has always denied any wrongdoing linked to the 1MDB fund, which is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and bribery.

US investigators have alleged that Mr Najib's associates stole and laundered $4.5bn from the fund between 2009 to 2014.

Mr Najib's arrest was in relation to a probe into SRC International, a former 1MDB unit created to pursue overseas investments in energy resources, a task force investigating the fund said.

Malaysia's anti-corruption agency has focused on how $10.6m came to be transferred from SRC International into his bank account.

The Bernama news agency claimed Mr Najib is expected to face more than 10 counts of committing criminal breach of trust linked to the SRC unit.

Dr Mahathir revealed last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that Malaysia was looking to bring against Mr Najib, adding that they had "an almost perfect case" against him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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