Former Malaysian premier Najib arrives at court to face charges

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arrives in court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian authorities brought former Prime Minister Najib Razak to court on Wednesday, where he is expected to face multiple charges over alleged graft at a former unit of scandal-tainted state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Najib, 64, was arrested at his home on Tuesday afternoon, less than two months after police and graft busters revived probes into the fund’s missing billions and a suspicious transaction involving SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.

Najib, who spent the night in lockup, arrived at 8.20 a.m. (0020 GMT) at the court complex in Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur, wearing a dark blue suit and a red tie. Crowds of media and curious onlookers jostled to catch a glance of the former premier as he was led to a sessions court where he will be read the charges.

Some members of Najib’s UMNO party chanted and held up placards in solidarity with the former premier.

Earlier, state news agency Bernama broadcast Najib’s convoy live as it moved slowly through morning rush-hour traffic during the long drive from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s offices in the administrative capital Putrajaya to the court in Kuala Lumpur.

Media reports said Malaysia’s attorney general Tommy Thomas will lead the prosecution against Najib.

Sources have said Najib could face multiple charges.

The charges are expected to be in connection with how 42 million ringgit ($10.6 million) went from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, into Najib’s personal bank account.

That is only a fraction of the total amount allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB. The U.S. Department of Justice has said over $4.5 billion was siphoned from the fund.

SRC is the initial focus of the Malaysian investigators as all the suspicious transactions involving the firm were made through Malaysian entities, unlike other 1MDB related transactions that went through foreign banks and companies.

A spokesman for Najib said on Tuesday that the SRC charges and the 1MDB investigations against the former leader were “politically motivated”, and that Najib will contest these charges and clear his name in court.

Mahathir said in an interview with Reuters last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that Malaysia was looking to bring against Najib, 64, adding that Najib was fully responsible for the 1MDB scandal.

Since his loss at the polls to mentor-turned-foe Mahathir, Najib has been barred from leaving the country and had millions of dollars of items seized from properties linked to his family.

In a pre-recorded message posted on Twitter after his arrest, Najib said not all the accusations against him and his family were true.

“Let investigations be carried out. I have not had a chance to defend myself,” he said.