July 3, 2018 / 11:29 PM / 4 months ago

Former Malaysian premier Najib set to be charged in court

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 (Reuters) - Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was set to be charged in court on Wednesday as part of investigations into how billions of dollars went missing from a state fund he founded.

Najib, 64, was arrested at his home on Tuesday afternoon in a stunning fall from grace, less than two months after losing an election to Mahathir Mohamad and as part of the government’s probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The former premier, who spent the night in lockup, is expected to arrive in court at around 0830 local time (0030 GMT).

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. (Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Joseph Sipalan; writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; editing by Richard Pullin)

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