Malaysia's Attorney-General hints at more charges relating to 1MDB

Riza Aziz

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged with corruption on Wednesday for allegedly accepting millions of dollars in bribe money, in a stunning fall from grace just months after his shock election defeat.

He was arrested Tuesday by anti-graft officials over a suspicious transfer of $10.4 million (U.S.) into his bank accounts from SRC International, a former unit of the 1MDB state investment fund that US investigators say was looted of billions by associates of Najib.

"Mohd Najib will be charged on July 4, 2018 at 8.30am at the Kuala Lumpur court", the statement said.

Allegations of massive corruption were a major factor behind the electoral quake in May that toppled Najib's long-ruling coalition and ushered in a reformist alliance headed by his 92-year-old former mentor Mahathir Mohamad.

Newly-appointed Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who led the prosecution team against Najib, has requested that the case be transferred to High Court.

Malaysia's anti-graft agency also said Najib had been arrested, according to state news agency Bernama.

A spokesman for Najib said on Tuesday that the SRC charges and the 1MDB investigations against the former leader were "politically motivated", and that Najib will contest the charges and clear his name in court.

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After another long session of questioning, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's son Riza Aziz has finally left the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters here.

"The 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB) taskforce has confirmed that the arrest against Najib at 2.35pm today is related to the SRC International Sdn Bhd investigations", said the MACC in a statement. "I expected questions from the press", he said.

Malaysian police say they have seized almost $275 million worth of jewelry, handbags, watches and cash from premises linked to Najib, while authorities have frozen more than 400 bank accounts as part of the 1MDB probe.

SRC was created in 2011 by Najib's government to pursue overseas investments in energy resources, and was a unit of 1MDB until it was moved to the finance ministry in 2012.

Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert at John Cabot University in Rome, said Najib's arrest was the "inevitable outcome" after he lost power.

"It signals a new era where no one in public office will be immune from punitive action if they abuse power", he added.

Bail for Najib was fixed at RM1mil in cash and two sureties.

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