Malaysian court rejects ex-PM Najib's bid to halt bankruptcy order

Malaysia's court ruled in 2020 that Najib Razak must pay RM1.69 billion in taxes, a bill he has disputed. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak faltered in his bid to get a High Court to halt bankruptcy proceedings against him for failing to pay a tax bill totalling RM1.74 billion (S$560 million).

Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Ahmad Bache on Monday (June 14) dismissed Najib's application for a stay of execution, according to an email exchange between the court and relevant parties.

Separately, the court of appeal will hear Najib's plea on June 16, according to his lawyer Farhan Shafee.

Monday's ruling is a blow to Najib, who was slapped with a bankruptcy notice in April just when he began his appeal against his conviction last year on charges in a case involving millions he received from a former unit of troubled state fund 1MDB.

Malaysia's court ruled in 2020 that the former leader must pay RM1.69 billion in taxes, a bill he has disputed.

Being a bankrupt would mean he would lose his parliamentary seat and will be ineligible to contest for party polls and national elections.

This would be a boon for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who has come under heavy criticism from Najib despite Umno being part of the ruling administration.

If Najib is disqualified as an election candidate before his imprisonment, Tan Sri Muhyiddin will "weaken the hostile factions in Umno," said political analyst Wong Chin Huat.

Mr Muhyiddin could even claim to accomplish what he and former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad set out to do years ago, he added.

Najib has said the "tyrannical" tax imposed on him has no merit and had sought for a stay order.

The case relates to RM3 billion put in an account under his name that was used to receive donations for corporate social responsibilities and political purposes, he added.

Umno has said it will end its current ties with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin once the next general election is called.

The party unexpectedly returned to power in March last year after Mr Muhyiddin secured a razor-thin majority following the abrupt resignation of his predecessor Dr Mahathir.

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