Malaysia charges former PM Najib with money laundering

Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak arrives for a court appearance at the Duta court complex in Kuala Lumpur on 8 August, 2018. (Mohd Rasfan / AFP Photo)

Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged under the anti-money laundering act in a case linked to the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal, adding to his earlier charges of corruption and breach of trust.

Najib was served with three counts of money laundering breaches related to SRC International, a former unit of state fund 1MDB. The charges carry a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of no less than five times the amount of relevant funds.

Najib had pleaded not guilty to earlier charges of corruption and criminal breach of trust, also linked to SRC, that were served on 4 July.

The indictment, the first for a former premier of Malaysia, comes after the country revived domestic investigations into the state fund following Najib’s fall from power in May. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is seeking to recover US$4.5 billion of funds potentially lost through 1MDB, whose full name is 1Malaysia Development Bhd, including by seizing a US$250-million yacht and seeking to recoup fees from Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The new charges against Najib allege that around 26 December, 2014, he received a 27 million-ringgit (US$6.62 million) transfer of funds from illicit activities to his account at AmIslamic Bank Bhd. The second charge alleges that around the same date, he received a five-million-ringgit transfer to a different account at the same bank. The third charge alleges that around 10 February, 2015, he received 10 million ringgit of funds from illegal activities.

Earlier corruption charges against Najib involve the same lender and allegedly happened during a similar time, while a charge for criminal breach of trust is linked to the Retirement Fund (Incorporated) or KWAP and allegedly happened between 17 August, 2011 and 8 February, 2012.

Najib’s lawyers are expected to file a written request for a permanent gag order during the case management on Wednesday, which would institute a ban on public statements commenting on the merits of the case in an unfair or prejudiced manner. - Bloomberg