Ex-Malaysian PM Najib arrested by anti-graft agency

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arriving at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Putrajaya on May 24, 2018, to give a statement. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Former prime minister Najib Razak was arrested by Malaysia's anti-graft agency on Tuesday (July 3).

According to a statement issued by the 1MDB task force, Datuk Seri Najib was picked up from his mansion in Jalan Langgak Duta in Kuala Lumpur at 2.35pm on Tuesday afternoon in relation to the probe into SRC International.

He was taken to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya. He will be charged in Kuala Lumpur Court at 8.30am on Wednesday. This means he will spend Tuesday night at the agency's lock-up facility for detainees.

A source from the MACC told The Straits Times that Mr Najib could face up to five charges under corruption laws and the Penal Code.

It has been alleged that Mr Najib received RM42 million (S$14.2 million) from SRC, a former subsidiary of troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing in relation to 1MDB.

Both he and his wife Rosmah Mansor were questioned by the MACC in May over fund transfers at SRC.

The task force was set up by the new Pakatan Harapan government to investigate the multibillion-dollar money-laundering scandal at 1MDB. It is composed of enforcement chiefs involved in 2015 investigations into the 1MDB scandal, which were halted during the Najib administration.

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The 1MDB probe was revived after Mr Najib's Barisan Nasional coalition suffered a shocking defeat in the May general elections.

Mr Najib's arrest comes exactly three years after it was first reported that US$700 million (S$956 million) was found in his personal accounts.

Mr Najib has said the funds were a political donation from Saudi royals, and that he has never abused public funds for personal gain. In 2016, he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Malaysian authorities.

New Attorney-General Tommy Thomas will lead the prosecution team against Mr Najib, Bernama news agency reported.

The MACC had earlier on Tuesday questioned Mr Najib's stepson Riza Aziz over claims that funds misappropriated from 1MDB were used to finance films produced by his company in Hollywood.

Meanwhile former deputy prime minister and current Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Tuesday he supported the probe according to "the rule of law", as the party's image has been tarnished in the court of public opinion.

Responding to news of Mr Najib's arrest, Datuk Seri Zahid said: "I always support if there are investigations to be carried out and some evidence and witnesses has to appear, to clear the image and perception of Umno."

He said this after being questioned himself at the MACC headquarters on Tuesday over separate allegations of graft against him.

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