Former Malaysia leader charged with breach of trust, corruption

04 July, 2018, 18:14 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Riza Aziz

Just eight weeks after losing an election, former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was charged on Wednesday with abuse of power and criminal breach of trust in an investigation over billions of dollars missing from a state fund.

If found guilty, Najib could face a jail sentence of between two and 20 years, as well as a fine, but will escape a sentence for caning as he is aged above 50.

Najib, who was allowed bail of RM1 million in two sureties in cash, was also ordered to surrender his passports.

The patrician and luxury-loving Najib, wearing a suit and a red tie, appeared calm and smiled as he was escorted into the court complex.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied corruption charges over the disappearance of millions of dollars from the 1MBD state investment fund, as part of a graft probe while he was in office.

Even though Najib has denied wrongdoing, the scandal played a role in unseating him as prime minister in May's shock election that also saw the ousting of Malaysia's ruling party of more than 61 years.

Najib Razak's lawyer says the prosecution team, led by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, seems to be still looking for evidence in the case. Najib's laywer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah protested the comment calling it "nonsense" and "coffeeshop talk".

The 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund was set up in 2009 to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments.

New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations into 1MDB that were stifled under Najib's rule.

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He left a pre-recorded message to protest his innocence that was posted to Twitter.

Najib's wife, Rosmah, has also been quizzed by anti-graft investigators in relation to 1MDB and Najib's stepson, Riza Aziz, was giving a statement to the MACC when news broke of Najib's arrest.

Authorities have "seized jewelry and valuables valued at more than 1.1 billion ringgit ($272 million) from properties linked to Najib", according to The Associated Press.

"Let investigations be conducted first, I have not had the chance to defend myself", Najib's voiceover said.

Najib, who explained that the US$681 million deposited was "donation" from an unnamed Saudi Arabian prince, was exonerated by the then-Attorney-General, Apandi Ali, in early 2016.

Officials close to the case described the transfer of the funds as a very strong "open-and-shut" case against Mr Najib, The Star reported.

The arrangement was made after Shafee told the court that Najib's family would not have access to further funds as their bank accounts were frozen by the 1MDB Task Force. We're not sure whether the picture was taken before or after the protest, but netizens are speculating that the signs were dumped there by Umno members after the protest came to a premature end.

Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert at John Cabot University in Rome, said Najib's arrest was the "inevitable outcome" after he lost power.

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