Former Malaysian PM charged with money laundering in ‘country’s biggest scandal’

9 Aug 18

Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency has charged the former prime minister Najib Razak with three cases of money laundering after billions of dollars went missing from a state fund during his term.

The former leader denies the charges, which relate to three transfers totalling $10m into his personal bank accounts from SRC international – a former unit of the state investment fund 1MDB.

This comes as the new prime minister Mahathir Mohamad relaunched an investigation into the fund, which has been called the biggest scandal in the country’s history, it is reported.

The former prime minister has been under investigation since he lost the election in May and has also been charged with criminal breach of trust and abuse of power as part of the anti-corruption commission’s investigation.

In June Malaysian police seized goods and cash worth up to $273m from properties linked to Najib as part of the investigation.

The penalty for the offence is up to 15 years in jail and a fine of no less than five times the value of the proceeds of any illegal transfers, or five million ringgit ($1.2m), whichever is higher.

The former prime minister did not address the media as he left the Kuala Lumpur high court, but his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said: “SRC, at the time of the so-called happening, was no longer a part of 1MDB. So it’s got nothing to do with 1MDB.

SRC, created in 2011 by Najib’s government to pursue overseas investment in energy resources, was a unit of the state fund until it was moved to the finance ministry in 2012.

The 1MDB scandal erupted in 2015 after media reported that hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund were diverted into his personal accounts.

But Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing and said that the funds were donations from a Saudi royal, and that it had been given back.

After the anti-graft agency reopened the investigation, it was found that earlier investigations were obstructed by the former government.  

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