Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at the Office of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Najib Razak has been summoned to be interrogated in an investigation into the laundering of money that involves the state investment of 1MDB fund. (Sadiq Asyraf / Associated Press)
by Associated Press May 22 at 2:14 am
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia – Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was questioned on Tuesday for a scandal corruption that could lead to criminal charges against him as the country's new anti-graft chief said the investigations into the case were suppressed by intimidation during the Najib government.
Najib was summoned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission almost two weeks after the defeat of its long coalition national elections, a loss partly attributed to public anger over the alleged bribery in the 1MDB state investment fund established by Najib . US researchers say Najib badociates stole and laundered $ 4.5 billion of the fund between 2009 and 2014, some of which fell into Najib's bank account.
Deceived by reporters, Najib seemed calm and smiled as he was escorted to the commission offices. At a news conference, the new commission chief Mohamad Shukri Abdull said the criminal charges against Najib could arrive "very soon" but he will not be arrested on Tuesday.
Shukri led investigations in 2015 of suspicious money transfers to the Najib bank account but flew to the United States after the Malaysian attorney general, who planned to press charges against Najib, was fired and Shukri heard rumors that he himself He would be arrested for a supposed conspiracy to overthrow the government.
Najib has denied any crime since the scandal erupted in 2015 As prime minister, he fired critics of his government and gagged the media to try to survive the consequences.
"Let the law take its course," Shukri said at the press conference. He said that the evidence for the registration of domestic money has been completed, but it could take "a long time" to investigate the trace of money abroad and talk to the witnesses. The findings of the Malaysian and US investigations are "almost similar," he said.
The former prime minister and his wife were forbidden to leave the country after the new government reopened an investigation into the scandal. The police have raided his house and other properties linked to him, seizing hundreds of expensive designer bags and luggage full of cash, jewelry and other valuables.
The interrogation of Najib in the anti-graft agency was specifically about why 42 million ringgit ($ 10.6 million) was transferred to his bank account from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, using multiple intermediary companies. The money was added to some 700 million dollars that US investigators said landed in Najib's bank account.
A new Attorney General in 2016 acquitted Najib of irregularities, saying that a particular transfer of $ 681 million was a political donation from the Saudi royal family that most of it was returned.
Shukri said that after that statement, the anti-bribery investigators were referred to a "questionable prince" of Saudi Arabia who claimed that he donated the money to Najib but was unable to present any supporting documents.  He related the pressure he faced in 2015, saying that he was threatened and that the witnesses disappeared. He refused to say who issued the threats. Just one day before Abdul Gani Patail was dismissed as attorney general by Najib in July 2015, Shukri said they met and Gani asked him if he was ready to press charges against the prime minister.
In an emotional moment, he said he felt guilty for fleeing to the United States when his men in the agency were dismissed or transferred.
The new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the investigations showed that the faults in 1MDB were more serious than expected.
Mahathir, who was the first 22 years until 2003 and the 1MDB scandal brought him out of retirement, has promised that there will be no "deal" for Najib and that he will face the consequences if he is found guilty of irregularities.
The current attorney general has been fired and Abdul Gani was appointed to a new task force investigating the state fund.
The US Department of Justice UU He said in a statement that he hopes to work with the Malaysian authorities in the investigation of the 1MDB case.
"The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that the United States and its financial system are not threatened by corrupt individuals and kleptocrats who seek to hide their ill-gotten wealth," he said. "Whenever possible, the recovered badets will be used to benefit people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of power."
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