Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrested by anti-graft investigators

July 20, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Najib Razak, the former Malaysian prime minister, was arrested on Tuesday over his alleged links to a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal involving a state investment fund that he founded almost a decade ago.  

He will be charged in court on Wednesday morning, an investigating task force said in a statement after he was picked up by anti-corruption officers arriving at his residence in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, in unmarked cars. 

Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansoor have been barred from leaving the country since he lost an election in May to his former mentor, Mahathir Mohamad, who swiftly reopened an investigation into the alleged plundering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad  (1MDB) fund. 

The former first couple has been grilled by the country’s anti-corruption agency and properties linked to the Najib family have been raided by police. 

Amar Singh, head of the police commercial crime division, told reporters last week that the retail costs of all the items taken from six properties totalled between $224m-$273m (£170m- £207m), the biggest seizure in Malaysian history. 

The haul included 12,000 pieces of jewellery, featuring a diamond necklace worth over £1m, along with 567 handbags, 234 pairs of sunglasses and 423 watches. 

In an interview with Reuters, Mr Najib said most of the items seized from his houses were gifts given to his wife and daughter and had nothing to do with 1MDB.

Police officer Amar Singh shows some of the items seized in raidsCredit:
Mohd Rasfan/AFP

Mr Najib said his son-in-law Daniyar Nazarbayev, the nephew of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, had also gifted many handbags to Rosmah.

The former prime minister has always denied any wrongdoing linked to the 1MDB fund, which is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.

US investigators have alleged that Mr Najib’s associates stole and laundered $4.5 billion (£3.4bn) from the fund between 2009 to 2014. 

Mr Najib was cleared of all wrongdoing when he was in office, but the investigation was widely viewed as a cover up. 

The controversy cast a shadow over the election campaign and fuelled public anger against Mr Najib’s ruling coalition. Now it threatens to have serious personal consequences. 

Mr Najib’s arrest was in relation to a probe into SRC International, a former 1MDB unit created to pursue overseas investments in energy resources, a task force investigating the fund said.

Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency has focussed in recent weeks on how $10.6m (£8m) came to be transferred from SRC International into his bank account. 

The Bernama news agency claimed Mr Najib is expected to face more than 10 counts of committing criminal breach of trust linked to the SRC unit. 

Mr Najib's stepson Riza Aziz arrives for questioningCredit:
Mohd Rasfan/AFP

Dr Mahathir revealed in an interview with Reuters last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that Malaysia was looking to bring against Mr Najib, adding that they had an “an almost perfect case” against him. 

Mr Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz was also questioned by investigators on Tuesday over the alleged misuse of hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to 1MDB to produce Hollywood films. 

Mr Riza is the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, a company that US prosecutors claim financed three Hollywood films, including the 2013 Martin Scorsese movie The Wolf of Wall Street. 

He denies any wrongdoing. A lawyer acting for Mr Riza told the Telegraph on Tuesday evening that he was still making a statement and that no charges had been filed so far