Ex-Malaysian PM granted bail on money-laundering charges

Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak arrives for a court appearance at the Duta court complex in Kuala Lumpur

Najib is the first Malaysian prime minister to have been charged in court. He faces up to 20 years in jail for each of those charges.

Malaysia's anti-corruption agency has charged the former prime minister Najib Razak with three counts of money laundering as part of its investigation into the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal.

As for the sole charge of abusing his position for self-gratification of RM42 million in the course of a government decision, a minor change amended mention of Najib's "participation or involvement in" to just "involvement in" a decision on behalf of the government to give government guarantee for RM4 billion of loans from civil servants' pension fund Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to SRC International.

Malaysia´s new government is probing allegations that billions of dollars were looted from state fund 1MDB, which was set up and overseen by Najib, in an audacious fraud that spanned the globe.

The judge transferred the case to the high court to be heard later on Wednesday, along with previous charges.

Najib stood calmly in the dock on Wednesday as the charges were read to him.

"I am confident of a fair trial for my client, but my client thinks this is a political prosecution", he told reporters.

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All the charges relate to fund transfers from SRC International, an energy company that was originally a subsidiary of 1MDB.

The offences under Section 4 (1)(b) of Anti-Money Laundering Act, Anti-Terrorism Financing Act and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amla) 2001 carries a punishment of up to 15 years' prison and a fine of up to five times the monetary amount involved.

The money-laundering charges allege 42 million ringgit stemming from illegal activities was transferred to Najib's bank accounts between December 2014 and February 2015.

The court heard that RM27 million and RM10 million were transferred into the same account, and RM5 million was transferred into a different account. The then attorney general cleared Najib of wrongdoing, and said that the money had been a donation from the Saudi royal family.

The new government reopened the investigations stifled under Mr Najib's rule and barred him and his wife from leaving the country.

Money allegedly siphoned off from SRC represents only a small fraction of the billions of dollars the US Department of Justice has said was misappropriated from 1MDB.

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