Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will appear before a court on Thursday where he faces 21 fresh charges of money laundering linked to the corruption case involving the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Former Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks during a press conference after being granted bail at a court hearing at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday.
All the charges were made under Section 23 (1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act and punishable under Section 24 (1) of the same law.
Najib was alleged to have committed all the offences at the same bank between June 23, 2014 and Dec 19, 2014. Since his shock election defeat in May, he has now been charged with a total of 32 counts related to state fund 1MDB, which he and his cronies allegedly looted.
The MACC has not discounted that more charges will be brought against the former PM, said deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki.
He and his wife, Rosmah Mansour, who has also been questioned in the scandal but has not been charged, are barred from leaving the country.
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Najib was charged with money laundering, criminal breach of trust and abuse of power in July and August relating to funds of about 42 million ringgit (US$10.14 million) that allegedly flowed from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, into his personal bank account. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to those chares and his trial is due to start next year.
The 1MDB scandal first broke in 2015 when leaked documents showed that $681 million was transferred into Najib's bank account, leading to massive street rallies calling on him to resign.
The attorney-general later cleared him of any wrongdoing, saying the money was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family, and closed down domestic investigations.
Najib set up 1MDB when he took power in 2009 for the stated goal of promoting economic development, but the fund amassed billions in debts and is being investigated in the USA and several other countries for alleged cross-border embezzlement and money laundering.
The DoJ estimates that Dollars 4.5 billion in total was looted from the fund.
A political blueblood whose father and uncle were both prime ministers, Najib's defeat was a shock that nearly no pundits predicted as his ruling Barisan Nasional coalition appeared to have a firm grip on power and was accused of widespread electoral fraud.