Malaysia’s Najib Razak charged with corruption

Riza Aziz

Malaysia’s Najib Razak charged with corruption

Earlier, state news agency Bernama broadcast Najib's convoy live as it moved through morning rush-hour traffic during the long drive from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's offices in the administrative capital Putrajaya to the court in Kuala Lumpur.

Embattled former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has pleaded not guilty over four charges read against him in relation to embezzlement of funds belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Newly-appointed Attorney-General Tommy Thomas leads the 12-strong prosecution team.

A spokesperson for Najib said the charges and 1MDB investigation were "politically motivated", News Asia reported. The statement said the arrest was linked to a former 1MDB unit but did not detail specific charges against him.

Since the election loss Najib has been banned from leaving the country.

Najib is the first Malaysian prime minister to face criminal charges.

Sources have told The Star that Najib will be charged with criminal breach of trust and offences under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).

In a related development, the Malaysian Bar Association said the task force probing the1MDB scandal has no legal standing to order the arrest of the former premier.

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The request, said lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, was made considering Najib's bank accounts have been frozen amid ongoing investigations.

A Najib spokesman did not immediately have a comment.

Authorities have "seized jewelry and valuables valued at more than 1.1 billion ringgit ($272 million) from properties linked to Najib", according to The Associated Press.

USA investigators allege that Najib's stepson's company, "Red Granite Pictures Inc., used money stolen from 1MDB to finance Hollywood films including the Martin Scorsese-directed 'The Wolf of Wall Street, ' " according to the AP.

"People might find it hard to understand, but my son-in-law for example, he gets Birkin from his source, five or six at one go", he said, referring to the iconic handbag from French label Hermes.

Mr Najib set up 1MDB when he took power in 2009 but the fund amassed billions in debts and is being investigated in the United States and several other countries.

He left a pre-recorded message to protest his innocence that was posted to Twitter.

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