Malaysian ex-PM Najib to be charged with money laundering

Anti-graft agency announces new case against former premier a day before his pre-trial hearing for earlier charges.

    Rajib Nazak is expected to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday [File:Yam G-Jun/The Associated Press]
    Rajib Nazak is expected to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday [File:Yam G-Jun/The Associated Press]

    Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak will be charged under the money-laundering act on Wednesday in connection with an ongoing scandal concerning the 1MDB state investment fund, the government said.  

    Najib, 65, was summoned on Tuesday to the office of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), where he was questioned for about 45 minutes, Reuters news agency reported. 

    The anti-corruption agency issued a statement soon after Najib's departure from their offices saying that the former prime minister would be charged under the anti-money laundering act. 

    "The charges are related to the SRC International case," the statement said. 

    Funds were allegedly transferred from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), into Najib's personal account.

    Last month, Najib was charged with abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust for allegedly depositing 42m ringgit ($10m) in state funds into his personal bank account between December 2014 and February 2015.

    He has denied all charges and was released on bail a day after his arrest.

    1MDB is under investigation in at least six countries including Singapore, Switzerland and the US. 

    The US Department of Justice has said more than $4bn was misappropriated by high-level officials from the fund and their associates.

    Equanimity

    Earlier on Tuesday, a superyacht at the heart of the corruption scandal - the biggest ever in the country - arrived back in Malaysia after being seized in Indonesia. 

    The $250m boat was allegedly bought with money stolen from 1MDB. 

    "The ultimate owner of this yacht is believed to be a Malaysian citizen known as Low Taek Jho, who is now a fugitive and believed to be the mastermind of this plan to steal billions of dollars from 1MDB," said Al Jazeera's Florence Looi, reporting from Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. 

    The new Malaysian government, led by Mahathir Mohamad who took the oath of office in May, is looking into the corruption scandal "extremely rigorously", Looi said

    "They've been looking at projects that are believed to be linked to 1MDB, they've suspended contracts involving Chinese companies - it's believed that some of that money may have been used to pay off some of 1MDB's debt.

    Najib, a former deputy of Mahathir, is expected in court for his pre-trial hearing on Wednesday. 

    In May, Malaysian police also seized bags of cash and jewellery worth $273m from properties linked to Najib and his family. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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