Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former prime minister, had been charged with 21 counts of money-laundering in a case linked to a multi-million dollar fraud scandal centred around a state fund.
Mr Najib was arrested on Wednesday and charged on Thursday in relation to the alleged transfer of close to £500m from the 1Malaysia Development Fund into his personal bank account.
He was also charged with four counts of abuse of power during his time as prime minister, bringing the total number of charges faced by the former leader up to 32 as investigators escalate a probe into how billions went missing from the fund.
Accusations of massive corruption at 1MDB, which was created by Mr Najib, were a major factor behind an electoral earthquake in May that toppled his long-ruling coalition and ushered in a reformist alliance headed by his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad, 92.
Dr Mahathir’s administration was quick to reinstate an investigation into the alleged looting of the state fund.
During a long-running international probe, US investigators have claimed that Mr Najib’s associates stole and laundered £3.4bn from the fund between 2009 to 2014, and graft allegations are being pursued in at least six countries.
Mr Najib has always denied any wrongdoing and he has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. "The charges made today will give me a chance to clear my name, that I am not a thief," Mr Najib told reporters outside the court, reported Channel News Asia.
He was released after the judge set bail of over £600,000. Set up by Mr Najib in 2009, 1MDB was intended to transform the capital, Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub in Asia through strategic investments.
In ended instead in a barrage of accusations that it had been plundered by Mr Najib, members of his family and associates and allegedly used to buy jewellery, artwork and luxurious real estate.
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