Malaysia’s Najib Razak charged with corruption

Malaysia’s Najib Razak charged with corruption

Najib and his allies are accused of plundering billions of dollars from the 1MDB to buy everything from U.S. real estate to artworks.

According to Bloomberg, the former prime minister pleaded not guilty to all charges.

"Najib is the first (former) prime minister ever to be charged in court in the history of Malaysia", said Tian Chua, vice president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, a key political party in the current ruling coalition.

The scandal caused widespread anger among voters, leading to Najib's ouster during the May 9 general elections, effectively ending Barisan Nasional's 61-year rule in Malaysia.

Earlier, Najib had his charges read to him at the Sessions Court before the case was transferred to the High Court, under request from the prosecution team.

Najib, who says the legal action against him is politically motivated, was arrested by anti-corruption investigators on Tuesday. "I have not had a chance to defend myself", Najib said.

Najib's denial of wrongdoing came on the same day that authorities froze more 408 bank accounts related to $271 million believed to have come from 1MDB.

"I assure you, you can report what happened in court today because that is actually what happened", he said.

Since the election loss Najib has been banned from leaving the country and has found himself at the centre of a widening graft probe.

Malaysia's new prime minister Mohamad Mahathir said in June that there was an "almost perfect" case against Najib's role in the 1MDB scandal, but proving the case is not set to be easy.

Najib and his cronies were accused of plundering billions of dollars from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund to buy everything from USA real estate to artworks.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) began investigating 1MDB, saying $4.5bn had been diverted.

Some of Najib's children were present in the court room, including his stepson Riza Aziz who on Tuesday was questioned by anti- graft officers in connection with their 1MDB probe. Red Granite agreed in March to pay the US government $60 million to settle claims it benefited from the 1MDB scandal.

The civil suit against Red Granite was part of an effort to recover some of the $4.5 billion that USA prosecutors say was stolen from 1MDB.

- The lawsuits say US$681 million from a 2013 bond sale by 1MDB was transferred to the account of "Malaysian Official 1", whom U.S. and Malaysian officials later identify as Najib.

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