US officials say former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak skimmed US$4.5 billion from a public fund, laundering US$ billion in real estate and luxury goods.
Ex-Goldman Bankers Face Charges in Money Laundering ScandalFormer Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested and later released Monday after initially being taken into custody by the country’s anti-corruption commission. He was accused of "manipulating" a report for his 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund and another 38 charges of money laundering and abuse of power.
According to local media, Razak was taken into the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters and was questioned there by authorities but was later released on bail around 1:00 p.m. local time.
Prosecutors are gearing up to charge the ex-leader and the former 1MDB president Arul Kanda with tampering with a fund report. Their arrests are expected Wednesday, according to EFE.
The former prime minister may be faced with an additional 38 charges of corruption, including money laundering and abuse of power when he allegedly committed between 2009, when Razak founded 1MDB, and the end of his tenure in 2018.
The investigation into the former leader's possible wrongdoings began in 2015 when the media reported that about US$621 million had been funneled from 1MDB to his personal bank accounts.
Najib created the state-run fund at the beginning of his time in office to attract economic investments in Malaysia.
The United States Department of Justice says that about $4.5 billion was skimmed off of 1MDB and that potentially US$1 billion was laundered in the U.S. through the purchase of real estate, yachts, jewelry and works of art, among other high-priced goods.
The former prime minister joined Minister Mahathir Mohamad and leaders of pro-Islam parties at a Saturday rally to celebrate the prime minister's decision to not ratify a United Nations convention against racial discrimination.
According to Reuters, Malay groups, who account for around 60 percent of the country are afraid the U.N. agreement will "undermine" Malay privileges and threaten Islam's status as Malaysia's official religion."