Written by Reuters
04 Jul, 2018 | 2:26 am
REUTERS – Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested on Tuesday (July 3), three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, following an investigation into how billions of dollars went missing from a state fund he founded almost a decade ago.
One of the sources said Najib is expected to be charged in court on Wednesday (July 4) after being remanded for one night.Najib’s arrest came after he led a 61-year political coalition to a dramatic defeated in a general election earlier this year.
Najib’s long-ruling coalition was handed a spectacular defeat in the May 9 polls when millions of Malaysians voted in the opposition Pakatan Harapan pact led by his former mentor, Mahathir Mohamad. This is the first time Malaysia has seen a change in governments since gaining independence from the British in 1957.
As the son of Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein, and the nephew of Malaysia’s third, he is regarded as political aristocracy. Najib holds the record as the youngest candidate to have participated in a Malaysian election. At the age of 22 in 1976, after the death of his father left vacant the Pekan constituency in his home state of Pahang, Najib won his first political election.
He is consequently Malaysia’s most experienced serving politician, with a three-decade career in government including as Deputy Energy Minister and Chief Minister of his home state and has also served in the Cabinet holding the Youth, Education and Defence portfolios.
Najib became Malaysia’s sixth Prime Minister on April 3, 2009, succeeding Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who bowed out after the ruling coalition was hit by record losses in the 2008 general election.
He took office pledging economic and political reforms, and although he delivered measures such as granting new bank licenses and cutting the fiscal deficit, he shied away from big subsidy cuts and tax reforms. He also reversed tack on controversial preferential equity ownership rules for the majority ethnic Malays, wary of a political backlash.
He was sworn in for a second term on May 6, 2013. Since 2015, he has been embroiled in a multi-billion dollar global financial scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state fund he founded in 2009.
The United States Department of Justice, in dozens of civil forfeiture suits, alleging that more than $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, and that about $1 billion made its way into the bank account of “Malaysian Official No 1”, who U.S. and Malaysian sources have confirmed refers to Najib.
Najib denies any wrongdoing and has been cleared by Malaysia’s attorney-general who said the money in his account was a gift from the Saudi royal family. But the case is being reinvestigated after Mahathir took over following the fall of Barisan Nasional in May 9 election.
Under the pressure, Najib resigned as the president of Barisan Nasional as well as United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the lynchpin of the political coalition, two days after the 2018 election. Najib and his wife were handed a travel ban and both were summoned to give a statement at Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as part of the 1MDB investigation.
Najib, who denied any wrongdoings, a statement about a suspicious transfer of $10.6 million to his bank account in late-May. The sum, however, is just a fraction of billions of dollars allegedly siphoned from state fund 1MDB, a scandal that dogged the last three years of Najib’s near-decade-long rule and a key reason why he was voted out in the May 9 election.
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