Malaysia.- F ormer Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested Tuesday by antigraft investigators and will be charged over his alleged role in the multibillion-dollar looting of a state investment fund, officials said.
A government task force probing alleged theft and money laundering at the 1MDB state investment fund said Najib’s arrest was linked to the suspicious transfer of 42 million ringgit ($10.6 million) into his bank account from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, using multiple intermediary companies.
It said in a brief statement that Najib will be brought to court on Wednesday to be charged, but didn’t give details of the charges against him. Najib’s arrest comes nearly two months after his coalition’s stunning rejection by voters in a May 9 general election.
In a pre-recorded video posted on social media hours after his arrest, Najib apologized to Malaysians but remained defiant. “I have done my best, but I realized it is not enough. I admit there are many weaknesses.... as a normal human being, I am not perfect but believe me, that the accusations against me and my family are not all true,” he said.
“I will face it with perseverance. Truly, Allah knows.” The new government has reopened investigations into 1MDB that were stifled under Najib’s rule. Najib and his wife, who have been questioned over the SRC issue by the anti-graft agency, have been barred from leaving the country.
Police have also seized jewelry and valuables valued at more than 1.1 billion ringgit ($272 million) from properties linked to Najib, who has denied any wrongdoing. Najib is expected to face more than 10 counts of committing criminal breach of trust linked to SRC International, Malaysia’s Bernama news agency reported.
It said Malaysia’s new attorney general, Tommy Thomas, will head the prosecution in the case. “This was the inevitable outcome when Najib lost the election and lost his political immunity,” Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at John Cabot University in Rome, said in an email.
“It shows the resolve of the new government to address previous abuses of power. It has been done judiciously so far and speaks to a needed reckoning for Malaysia and a key step toward a cleaner governance.”