Malaysia’s ex-PM pleads not guilty as graft trial begins
Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him at the first main hearing in a trial over an economic scandal that brought down his government last year.
Najib pleaded not guilty to seven charges of corruption and money-laundering after arriving at the High Court in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday.
The 65-year-old former leader is accused of having pocketed a staggering 681 million dollars from the sovereign wealth fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he set up in 2009 to allegedly develop the country’s economy.
The hearing on Wednesday centered on charges related to three electronic transfers amounting to 10 million dollars from SRC International — a former unit of the state fund 1MDB — into Najib’s personal bank account. According to the prosecutors’ charge-sheet, Najib had “secured protection from disciplinary, civil or criminal action related to 1MDB” by directing for an audit report of the fund to be amended before it was finalized.
“The accused is not above the law, and his prosecution and this trial should serve as precedents,” said Attorney General Tommy Thomas.
Najib, who is free on bail, has consistently denied any wrongdoing, describing the charges as politically motivated.