He was arrested Tuesday by anti-graft officials over the suspicious transfer of 42 million ringgit.
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA.- Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged Wednesday with criminal breach of trust and corruption, two months after a multibillion-dollar graft scandal at a state investment fund led to his stunning election defeat. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
“I claim trial,” he said in a barely audible voice as he stood in the dock at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur. A judge set bail at 1 million ringgit in cash ($250,000) and ordered Najib to surrender his two diplomatic passports. The patrician and luxury-loving Najib, wearing a suit and a red tie, appeared calm and smiled as he was escorted into the court complex.
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He was arrested Tuesday by anti-graft officials over the suspicious transfer of 42 million ringgit ($10.4 million) into his bank accounts from SRC International, a former unit of the 1MDB state investment fund that U.S. investigators say was looted of billions by associates of Najib.
Najib was charged with abuse of power leading to gratification under Malaysia’s anti-corruption law and three counts of criminal breach of trust. Each charge has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Whipping is also a penalty but Najib would be exempt because of his age. Anger over the 1MDB saga led to the shocking defeat of Najib’s long-ruling coalition in May 9 elections and ushered in the first change of power since independence from Britain in 1957.
Malaysia’s new attorney general, Tommy Thomas, who is heading the prosecution, said the 1MBD case has attracted global attention and “brought shame to the country.” Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah protested the comment calling it “nonsense” and “coffeeshop talk.”