Former Malaysian PM Najib charged with criminal breach of trust

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arrives in court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin
KUALA LUMPUR, (DNA) – Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak pleaded not guilty to criminal charges on Wednesday related to a probe into allegations of corruption at state fund 1MDB, less than two months after he was ousted in a stunning election.Najib, 64, nodded as he was charged with abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust as part of an investigation into a transaction involving SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Each of the four charges carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. The abuse of power charge carries a fine of not less than five times the “value of gratification”.

Najib was granted bail set at 1 million ringgit ($247,000).

“As a public official, which is prime minister and minister of finance, used your position for self gratification (for a) total of 42 million ringgit,” Attorney General Tommy Thomas said referring to the abuse of power charge.

The charges relate to funds that allegedly went from SRC International into Najib’s personal bank account, but are only a fraction of the billions of dollars the U.S. Department of Justice has said was misappropriated from 1MDB.

Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing in relation to 1MDB.

In a stunning fall from grace, Najib was arrested at his home on Tuesday as part of the investigations into 1MDB revived by his successor and mentor-turned-foe Mahathir Mohamad since the surprise May 9 election.

Some of Najib’s children were present in court.

Najib, who spent the night in detention, arrived at the court complex in the capital Kuala Lumpur wearing a dark blue suit and a red tie.

Crowds of media and onlookers jostled to catch a glance of the former premier, while some members of Najib’s UMNO party chanted and held up placards in support of their former leader.