KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Paul Stadlen, once a media adviser to former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, is expected to be slapped with money laundering charges, according to financial daily The Edge.
He is expected to be charged in abstentia, as he fled Malaysia after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition won the general election last May.
The daily quoted sources who said that the charges involve a sum of RM15 million (S$4.98 million), with investigators tracing the source of money to Najib.
Last November, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said it was looking for Stadlen as a witness in its 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) investigations.
However, his history with the Malaysian government goes back as far back as 2009, when global PR firm Apco Worldwide won a government contract here.
The Najib administration later dropped the contract and Stadlen temporarily moved to work for FBC Media.
In 2011, Sarawak Report exposed that FBC Media had won contracts worth RM84 million and RM15 million from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Sarawak government to promote Najib and then Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and various government projects to British and United States news stations such as BBC, CNBC and CNN.
This was in violation of those countries' broadcast laws, and after the Sarawak Report exposé, the three broadcasters axed their contracts with FBC Media.
That didn't seem to be bad news for Stadlen, who then moved to work directly for the PMO - his office was located just a few doors down the corridor from Najib's own national communications team's office, the whistle-blowing portal reported in 2015.
In November that year, when queried in Parliament, the Prime Minister's Department claimed that Stadlen was not a government employee and, hence, was not paid a salary and allowance by the government.