Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak to face 21 money laundering charges


Malaysia's ex-leader Najib Razak was hit with 25 new charges of money laundering and abuse of power linked to the 1MDB mega-scandal on Thursday, including allegations hundreds of millions of dollars were transferred to his personal bank account.

A mountain of legal challenges lies ahead of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as authorities bring fresh charges against the former PM over the multibillion-ringgit 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

Najib has denied all charges, which have piled up since he unexpectedly lost a general election in May to Mahathir Mohamad, who reopened the 1MDB investigation.

Earlier today, the prosecution team led by Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram told the court that it objected to bail being granted to Najib for the 25 counts of money-laundering and power abuse charges that he faced over almost RM2.3 billion of funds.

He pleaded not guilty to four abuse-of-power charges and 21 money-laundering charges.

"With all the charges against me, it will be a chance for me to clear my name, that I am not a thief", he told reporters outside the court.

"The bail is to be paid, starting from tomorrow RM1 million and subsequently, RM500,000 in instalments until Friday, Sept 28", she said yesterday. The charges were read to him before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi.

The former leader has been accused of diverting around $681 million to his private accounts from 1MDB. The suspicious transfers to his accounts were a key chapter in the scandal, and Najib has previously insisted they were a donation from Saudi royalty - an explanation that was widely derided.

Despite growing calls to step down, he clung to power by cracking down on dissent and the media.

This brings the number of charges against Najib to 32 since his shocking election defeat in May 9 national polls.

"This is because regard has to be had to the seriousness of the offences, the number of charges", Sri Ram said, also citing at one point the USA attorney general's description of Najib's conduct as allegedly the "worst case of kleptocracy". Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho is described as a central figure in the scandal.

The MACC has referred Najib to the Malaysian police's Commercial Crime Investigation Department this morning to have his statement recorded.

The charges mean Najib could face up to 15 years in jail and a fine of not less than five times the value of the proceeds of unlawful activities, or RM5 million, whichever is higher. Rosmah was questioned by investigators earlier this year and has been barred from leaving the country.

The matter was confirmed by his lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.