Malaysian former PM Najib faces new money laundering charges

After the prosecution team read the charges, the judge decided that Najib's case would be transferred to the high court.

Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak was hit with new charges Wednesday linked to a multi-billion-dollar financial scandal that contributed to his shock election defeat in May, as supporters chanted "Long live Najib" and his lawyer called the charges "political".

Asked if he understood the charges, Najib responded: "I understand".

The charges - which Najib denies - relate to three transfers totalling 42m ringgit (US$10m) into his bank accounts from SRC International, a former unit of the 1MDB fund that United States investigators say was looted of billions by Najib's associates.

Fines as much as five times the amount for each money-laundering charge can be imposed as well.

He and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been barred from leaving the country since he lost an election in May, and the new prime minister, his mentor-turned-foe Mahathir Mohamad, relaunched an investigation into 1MDB.

Last month, Najib was arrested and charged with abuse of power and criminal breach of trust following a probe into SRC International.

His is accused of having received 42m ringgit ($10m; £8m) from state fund 1MDB in his personal bank account.

The yacht which was seized by Indonesian authorities past year, was purchased by Malaysian financier Jho Low in 2014, a close family friend of Najib.

Najib today also claimed trial to three new charges of money-laundering of a sum totaling RM42 million.

Najib, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and his allies are accused of plundering billions of dollars from 1MDB to buy everything from U.S. real estate to artworks.

The High Court has yet to fix trial dates for the three criminal cases of CBT, power abuse, and money-laundering that will be heard together.

Investigations into 1MDB have been moving swiftly.

The US Department of Justice estimates the money diverted from 1MDB to be $4.5 billion, of which about $1 billion may have been laundered in the US through the purchase of real estate, yachts, jewellery and works of art, among others.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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