November 15, 2018 / 7:12 AM / 25 days ago

Malaysia charges wife of former PM Najib with two counts of corruption

Rosmah Mansor, wife of Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak, arrives in court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia on Thursday accused Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, on charges of soliciting and receiving bribes involving a sum of 189 million ringgit ($45.12 million) from a company pitching for a government project.

Najib and his wife, who has faced criticism for her extravagant lifestyle, are at the centre of a wide-ranging graft investigation launched by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was returned to power by a stunning election victory in May.

Prosecutors who charged Rosmah with two counts of corruption said the payments concerned a 1.25-billion-ringgit ($298-million) solar project in schools in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo.

She pleaded not guilty to both the charges.

Prosecutors said Rosmah sought a bribe of 187.5 million ringgit ($45 million) in 2016 from an executive of Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd, and received a bribe of 1.5 million ringgit ($358,000) the following year from the official.

A spokeswoman for Jepak Holdings declined to comment to Reuters.

Since his election defeat, Najib has been charged with 38 counts of graft, mostly over a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB). Rosmah was last month charged with 17 money laundering offences.

Najib and Rosmah have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

($1=4.1900 ringgit)

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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