Former Malaysia PM Najib Razak faces 21 charges over missing $628m

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak arrives at the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Department in Kuala Lumpur

On the 10th count, Najib was charged with transferring RM652,600,000, also believed to be proceeds from the unlawful activities, from his AmIslamic Bank account number 2112022009694 into the same account number 8550299001 belonging to Tanore Finance Corporation di Falcon Private Bank, Singapore.

He also claimed trial to 21 charges under the Anti-Money Laundering Act and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 (Amlafta).

Najib Razak, the former Malaysian prime minister, faces decades in prison if convicted of a series of new charges stemming from the corruption scandal that fuelled his political downfall.

Nine of those charges are for money laundering, five for the use of ill-gotten gains, and seven for transferring illicit funds to other entities.

Accusations of massive corruption at 1MDB, which was created by Mr Najib, were a major factor behind an electoral quake in May that toppled his long-ruling coalition and ushered in a reformist alliance headed by his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad, 92.

Mahathir, 93, in his second stint as premier after coming out of retirement to take on his one-time protege Najib, has reopened probes into 1MDB that were shut down by the former government, and vowed to bring Najib to justice.

Police arrested Najib Wednesday afternoon on the order of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which said the charges were related to 2.6 billion ringgit (about $628 million, at today's exchange rate) that was found in the prime minister's bank account.

Afterwards, deputy national police chief Noor Rashid Ibrahim said in a statement that "as many as 21 charges involving $681 million have been prepared".

The police statement did not mention 1MDB.

1MDB is being investigated by at least six countries, including Singapore, Switzerland and the United States, over alleged money laundering and graft.

But the latest charges are more significant and relate to a key episode in the 1MDB scandal.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing, saying the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family.

"The charges don't go any deeper than that and that clearly shows that the authorities are desperate by bringing up charges related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) so that they can fulfil their general election manifesto". Public anger over the 1MDB scandal eventually led to the ouster of Najib's long-ruling coalition in May 9 polls and ushered in the first change of power since Malaysia's independence from Britain in 1957.

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