FORMER Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been rearrested on Wednesday evening and is expected to face fresh graft charges on Thursday over the controversial RM2.6 billion (US$681 million) “donation” which he claimed came from a Saudi Arabian royal in 2014.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) announced the ousted premier’s arrest at 4.13pm after taking him in for questioning at its headquarters in the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya earlier, The Malay Mail Online reported.
“Najib will face several charges under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 after prosecution permission is obtained from the Attorney-General’s Chambers,” the MACC said in a statement.
According to MalaysiaKini, MACC officers made the arrest after recording his statement about 700 cheques linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund scandal.
Earlier, a police source familiar with the investigation told MalaysiaKini that Najib faces up to six charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla).
This would bring the total of graft and abuse of power-related charges faced by Najib to 13. Since late July, the former premier has been slapped with a total of seven charges in connection with SRC International Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of 1MDB.
“Police have completed their investigations. According to the plan, the police wanted to charge him tomorrow (Thursday) but there is a meeting with the MACC. He will be charged very soon,” the source said, without confirming the exact date of when Najib would be dragged to court again.
Najib, members of his family, and Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, commonly known as Jho Low, have all been implicated in the 1MDB scandal.
The fund is currently at the centre of money-laundering probes in at least six countries, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore.
A total of US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, according to civil lawsuits filed by the DOJ.
Najib set up 1MDB in 2009 and previously served as chairman of its advisory board. He was found with RM2.6 billion (approx. US$681 million) in his personal account. He claims the money was a gift from the Saudi Arabian royal family and maintains there was no wrongdoing.
Najib was first arrested at his home in July, less than two months after an unexpected election defeat to a coalition led by his mentor-turned-foe Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Since his ouster, police and anti-graft investigators have revived probes into missing billions related to 1MDB.
The criminal breach of trust charges against Najib involves the embezzlement of RM27 million (US$6.75 million), RM5 million (US$1.25 million) and RM10 million (US$2.5 million) from SRC International while he was serving as prime minister and finance minister.
The other graft charge involved a payout to Najib amounting to RM42 million (US$10 million) for his alleged involvement in the decision to provide government guarantees for an RM4 billion (US$1 billion) loan from Retirement Fund (Incorporated) to SRC International.
Najib has claimed trial to all the previous allegations. If convicted, he could face decades in prison as each charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
However, Najib’s trial is expected to go on for years due to the complexity of the cases, observers said earlier.
Najib’s latest arrest also comes barely a few days after it was reported that his wife could soon be hit with up to 20 criminal charges, most of them related to alleged money laundering.
Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, also faces money laundering charges of his own in relation to payments totalling RM9.5 million (US$2.29 million) from Najib between 2013 and 2014.