Rapped for taking stepson on trip

A screenshot showing Mr Riza (background) emerging from the Malaysian delegation's plane in Beijing on Monday behind his mother.
A screenshot showing Mr Riza (background) emerging from the Malaysian delegation's plane in Beijing on Monday behind his mother.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's opposition and Twitterati have lashed out against Prime Minister Najib Razak after photos showed he was accompanied on an official trip to China by his stepson, who the US authorities have fingered in a massive embezzlement scam.

In images on Twitter, Mr Riza Aziz is seen emerging along with Datuk Seri Najib from his delegation's official plane after it arrived in Beijing on Monday.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said in lawsuits filed in July that more than US$200 million (S$278 million) was funnelled to Mr Riza - the son of Mr Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor from her previous marriage - from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The fund is now the subject of investigations in at least six countries, including Singapore, amid allegations that Mr Najib, his relatives and associates plundered billions from it.

The DOJ said Mr Riza used the siphoned millions to buy luxury real estate and fund his film company, Red Granite Pictures.

Opposition MP Rafizi Ramli was yesterday quoted as saying in Parliament: "Not only do we have to bear (the cost) of the expensive jet but now, he (Najib) is bringing his stepson, whom the whole world is looking for in relation to 1MDB monies.

"Riza should not be given special treatment... He should be arrested and questioned."

Malaysian media quoted a spokesman for Datin Seri Rosmah as defending Mr Riza's presence, saying China had invited Mr Najib's whole family.

But Twitter users pounced. "FBI, hurry! Go capture him," said one posting. Another read: "Scandalous and outrageous. Aren't the Najibs ashamed of themselves?"

The DOJ filings repeatedly mentioned a "Malaysian Official 1", or MO1, as taking part in the 1MDB looting. Cabinet minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan has admitted that MO1 refers to Mr Najib, while stressing that the Premier was not a target in the US legal action.

Mr Najib and 1MDB deny any wrongdoing. No arrest warrants are known to have been issued by the US authorities in the case.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Rapped for taking stepson on trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe