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February 22, 2019

Malaysia's toppled leader to face new charges

Malaysia's toppled leader to face new charges
'Najib (C) is surrounded as he leaves court after posting bail in early July: he reportedly faces fresh charges' - By: AFP/File MOHD RASFAN

Malaysia's disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak will face new charges in court Wednesday under anti-money laundering laws in a case linked to a multi-billion-dollar graft scandal, authorities said.

The announcement came after Najib, who suffered a shock defeat in May elections, was summoned for a new round of questioning by the anti-corruption agency.

Najib was arrested last month and charged with criminal breach of trust and abusing his position over accusations he pocketed 42 million ringgit ($10.3 million). The new charges he faces are in relation to the same case, the anti-graft agency said in a statement.

All the charges relate to the scandal surrounding sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, which was set up and overseen by Najib.

The former leader, his family and cronies are accused of embezzling huge sums that were used to buy everything from artwork to high-end real estate in a sophisticated fraud that spanned the globe.

The graft allegations were a major factor in the defeat of Najib's long-ruling coalition by a reformist alliance headed by political heavyweight Mahathir Mohamad, 93.

After questioning Najib Tuesday for 45 minutes, the anti-graft agency said he would be charged under the anti-money laundering law in relation to SRC International, an energy company that used to be a subsidiary of 1MDB.

He is to face three new charges, the official news agency Bernama reported.

According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, about $10 million originating from SRC was transferred to Najib's personal bank accounts.

Najib has so far pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

Shortly after his downfall, a treasure trove of valuables was seized in raids on properties linked to Najib and his family -- including cash, jewellery and luxury handbags -- worth up to $273 million.

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