Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak has been arrested by anti-corruption authorities and is due to face charges at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow (Wednesday).
The former premier’s arrest is in connection with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations into SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of the sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Najib, who has been banned from leaving Malaysia, was arrested at his home in Jalan Langgak Duta, Taman Duta, this afternoon. He was then taken to the MACC headquarters and is expected to be detained overnight.
The 1MDB Special Task Force said in a statement that Najib was arrested at his residence at 2.35 p.m. over the investigation into SRC International and would be charged at 8.30 a.m. tomorrow.
Allegations of corruption and money laundering linked to 1MDB, which was founded by Najib in 2009, are being investigated in at least six countries.
Najib denies all allegations of financial wrongdoing.
On May 22 and 24, the former premier was summoned to the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya to have his statement recorded.
His wife, Rosmah Mansor, and stepson Riza Aziz have also been questioned by the MACC.
Riza is the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, a company that is alleged to have financed three Hollywood films, including the 2013 Martin Scorsese movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”, with funds misappropriated from1MDB.
Najib, who has retained his parliamentary seat in his home town of Pekan in Pahang, is mired in scandal over 1MDB. He is accused of siphoning off huge amounts of public money for his own use.
The new government that came to power in May, and is headed by Najib’s one-time mentor Mahathir Mohamad, has pledged to investigate all allegations of corruption and bring an end to the kleptocracy that marked the rule of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
The opposition routed BN in Malaysia’s 14th general election. It was the first time since the country gained its independence from Britain in 1957 that the ruling coalition lost an election.
In its investigations into allegations about 1MDB, the MACC has initially focused on how 42 million ringgit (about US$10.4 million) allegedly went from SRC International to Najib’s account.
Najib’s government created SRC in 2011 to pursue overseas investments in energy resources. It was a subsidiary of 1MDB until it was transferred to the finance ministry in 2012.
In civil lawsuits filed by the United States Department of Justice, it is alleged that, between 2009 and 2015, more than $4.5 billion in the 1MDB fund was misappropriated by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.
Najib faces allegations that he channelled more than 2.6 billion ringgit (about US$642 million) from 1MDB into his personal bank accounts.
On June 27, the director of the federal commercial crime investigation department, Amar Singh, said the total value of items seized in recent raids on premises linked to Najib was estimated at between 900 million and 1.1 billion ringgit.
A total of 116.7 million ringgit in cash was found in 35 bags taken from premises linked to Najib. Amar said the money, which was in 26 currencies, took three days to count.
Another 25 bags contained 12,000 items of jewellery, including rings and diamond earrings estimated to cost 440 million ringgit in materials alone.
Amar said these included 1,400 chains, 2,200 rings, 2,800 pairs of earrings, and 14 tiaras. The most valuable piece of jewellery was a white diamond necklace estimated to be worth 6.4 million ringgit, without including the cost of workmanship and design.
A total of 567 handbags were also seized, along with 423 watches worth 78 million ringgit and 234 pairs of sunglasses worth 374,000 ringgit.
Amar said the seizure was the biggest in Malaysian history.
In 2015, Najib sacked the then deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, who had publicly demanded that Najb explain how the 2.6 billion ringgit got into his private account. He also removed the attorney-general, Abdul Gani Patail, from his post.
Mahathir told a press conference recently that Abdul Gani had told him he was preparing to charge Najib. “But you know what happened; that morning he was deprived of his post,” Mahathir said.
Abdul Gani was heading the special task force investigating the allegations about the 2.6 billion ringgit, which Najib claimed was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family.
In January 2016, Abdul Gani Patail’s replacement Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Najb of corruption. Mahathir has already suspended Apandi.
Mahathir said in an interview last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that Malaysia was looking to bring against Najib. He said the authorities had “an almost perfect case” against the former premier.
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