Malaysia’s ex-PM Najib in court over money linked to Saudi family
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing on corruption and money laundering charges.
Najib was charged with three counts of money laundering on Wednesday as part of a probe into money missing from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The charges were related to transfers of 42 million ringgit ($10 million) from a former 1MDB unit into Najib’s personal bank account.
The country’s new government has been adamantly looking for answers regarding how billions of dollars went missing from 1MDB during Najib’s 10-year term in office.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has reopened an investigation into the scandal, which broke in 2015, after media reports said hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB were diverted to Najib’s personal accounts.
Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been barred from leaving Malaysia after he was ousted from power in a shock election defeat in May.
Last month, Najib was arrested and charged with abuse of power and criminal breach of trust. He was later freed on bail.
On Wednesday, Najib pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges. He has claimed that any funds transferred to his personal bank account were donations by a Saudi royal family.
Najib is implicated in a multi-billion dollar misappropriation scandal, including about $700 million transferred to his private accounts by the Saudi royal family.
Saudi officials have confirmed the payment saying $681 million was transferred to the Malaysian premier accounts as a “genuine donation”.
If the corruption charges against Najib stand, he could face up to 15 years in jail and a fine.