Malaysia’s Najib Razak faces bankruptcy over $400m tax bill

The scandal-plagued prime minister says the notice is an attempt to destroy his political career.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, centre, wearing a face mask arrives at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, Malaysia, April 5, 2021 [Vincent Thian/AP Photo]

Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, has been served with a bankruptcy notice for failing to pay more than $400m in unpaid taxes.

In a Facebook post late on Tuesday, Najib described the move as an attempt to destroy his political career.

The 67-year-old, who lost a historic election in 2018, is facing dozens of corruption and money laundering charges over the suspected theft of billions of dollars from the 1MDB state fund.

He has denied wrongdoing and on Monday launched a court appeal to overturn his conviction and 12-year jail sentence in a 1MDB-related case.

Last year, a Malaysian court ordered Najib – who remains free on bail and is still a member of parliament – to settle 1.69 billion ringgit ($410m) in unpaid taxes accumulated between 2011 and 2017 while he was still in office, including penalties and interest.

Najib said on Facebook that officials from the Inland Revenue Board issued a bankruptcy notice to him over the unpaid tax bill on Monday, shortly after his appeal hearing.

He said the timing of the notice was linked to last month’s decision by his political party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), to stop cooperating with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government in upcoming elections.

If declared bankrupt, Najib said he would lose his seat as a member of parliament and would not be able to stand as an election candidate.

“I will not bow to individuals who abuse the laws of this country to oppress me on the basis of politics and greed to cling to power,” he said, adding that he had asked his lawyers to obtain a stay order on the notice.

Muhyiddin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman from the revenue board also declined comment.

UMNO unexpectedly returned to power last year as part of a coalition that nominated Muhyiddin to become prime minister, after the previous coalition government led by veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad fell apart.

Despite the charges against him, and though he no longer leads UMNO, Najib has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and maintains an active social media presence, particularly on Facebook where he has about four million followers, more than any other Malaysian politician.

Source: News Agencies