Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and one count of abuse of power in connection with the multibillion dollar 1MDB scandal which has dogged his administration for years.
Najib was arrested at about 2.35pm on Tuesday (July 3) at his residence in Langgak Duta in Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, The Star reported.
The 64-year-old was charged with misusing his position as a government official to receive a RM42mil bribe as inducement to provide a sovereign guarantee on behalf of the Malaysian Government for a loan of RM4bil from a government pension fund to SRC International Sdn Bhd, according to The Star.
A former subsidiary of troubled state fund 1MDB, SRC International is an energy company established by Najib in 2011. It was placed under the jurisdiction of the Finance Ministry – which Najib also headed as the country’s finance minister – in 2012.
He was also charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) in his capacity as Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Advisor Emeritus of SRC International, in which he was entrusted with the RM4bil, The Star reported.
Najib has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The case will be tried early next year in Malaysia’s High Court, which has set the trial dates as Feb 18 to 28, March 4 to 8, and March 11 to 15, 2019 – a total of 19 days.
“I believe in my innocence. This is the best opportunity for me to clear my name after being heavily accused,” Najib told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Wednesday (July 4), according to The Star.
Bail was fixed at RM1mil in cash, and the former premier was asked to surrender both his normal and diplomatic passports.
Allegations regarding the misappropriation of billions of dollars from state fund 1MDB first surfaced in 2015. A task force was set up to look into the matter, but investigations were disrupted by the abrupt dismissal of the then Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail, allegedly right before his team could press charges against Najib.
His successor Attorney-General Apandi Ali cleared Najib of wrongdoing, the funds in his personal accounts allegedly a donation from the Saudi royal family.
The case was reopened shortly after the Pakatan Harapan coalition’s victory in Malaysia’s 14th general election on May 9, the surprise win likely due in part to lingering public anger over the scandal. Raids at six properties connected with Najib yielded between RM900 million and RM1.1 billion worth of cash and luxury goods, The Star reported.
Najib has maintained that he is innocent, claiming most of the items were gifts.