Malaysian ex-PM Najib hit with 25 new charges over 1MDB scandal

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak arrives at the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Department in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's ex-leader Najib Razak arrived in court on Thursday to face a barrage of charges relating to $681 million of state funds that allegedly ended up in his personal bank account.

Nine of those charges are for money laundering, five for the use of ill-gotten gains, and seven for transferring illicit funds to other entities.

The money-laundering accusations are related to the so-called 1MDB scandal, drawing its name from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd government investment fund.

The US Department of Justice, which is seeking to recover assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB money, estimates that $4.5 billion in total was looted from the fund.

Najib has maintained his innocence and said his trial in February 2019 was the "best chance" for him to clear his name.

Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak (C) is escorted by police to the court house in Kuala Lumpur on September 20, 2018.

Najib was arrested again on Wednesday in relation to the 1MDB investigation by the MACC and was taken into custody at the anti-graft agency's headquarters in Putrajaya.

USA investigators say Najib's associates stole and laundered $4.5 billion from the fund, some of which landed in Najib's bank account.

1MDB is being investigated by at least six countries, including Singapore, Switzerland and the United States, over alleged money laundering and graft.

Prosecutors, describing the abuse of power charges, said Najib used his position as prime minister, finance minister and chairman of 1MDB to obtain funds totalling about 2.3 billion ringgit (420.5 million pounds) between 2011 and 2014.

Police have said investigations show that $972 million had been transferred to Najib's bank account from three companies linked to 1MDB.

Najib previously posted RM1 million bail split across two payments when he was charged in July with criminal breach of trust and power abuse. He denies any wrongdoing.

A new attorney-general cleared Najib in January 2016, saying it was a political donation from Saudi Arabia's royal family and most of it had been returned - an explanation that was met with widespread skepticism.

Najib and his luxury-loving wife Rosmah Mansor became hated figures, symbols of the rot in a corrupt elite that had ruled Malaysia uninterrupted since independence from Britain in 1957.

"I hope my journey in court will uphold the truth and put to rest this RM2.6bil issue once and for all", he said to reporters right before leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Sept 20.

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