Malaysia arrests man to help with high-level probe into 1MDB

Mr Jerome Lee was arrested to "aid investigations by the Special Task Force into 1MDB".
Mr Jerome Lee was arrested to "aid investigations by the Special Task Force into 1MDB".PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities have arrested a man - believed to be the first - to aid a high-level multi-agency probe into scandal-hit state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Prominent lawyer Shafee Abdullah told The Straits Times that his client, Mr Jerome Lee, was picked up by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers as he was about to leave for Taiwan early Monday morning.

"Today the magistrate in Putrajaya has given a four-day remand but the court has not given me any grounds of arrest. This is breaching his basic rights," he said.

He declined to say how his client was linked to 1MDB, merely describing him as a "businessman". But the New Straits Times reported that he is "understood to have been with 1MDB prior to his current employment".

Sources confirmed that Mr Lee was arrested to "aid investigations by the Special Task Force into 1MDB". 

The task force - made up of the MACC, police, public prosecutor and central bank - has frozen bank accounts and also raided the headquarters of 1MDB since a July 3 allegation by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that US$700 million (S$961 million) linked to the debt-laden firm was deposited in private accounts belonging to Prime Minister Najib Razak, who heads the 1MDB advisory board.

Datuk Seri Najib has denied using state funds for "personal gains" but has not clarified whether he received the money.

shannont@sph.com.sg