Malaysian authorities have arrested former Prime Minister Najib Razak on charges of corruption and money laundering.
Najib, who chaired the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, a state-owned investment firm set up in 2009 at the prime minister’s initiative, was arrested in connection to $628 million that was allocated from the fund to his personal account, Channel News Asia reported Thursday.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said Wednesday Najib was taken into custody at 4:13 p.m., and is to be charged with alleged abuse of power.
Free Malaysia Today reported Wednesday the commission is inquiring into 700 checks Najib issued from the fund. He already faces seven charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering, all tied to a reported transfer of about $10 million from 1MDB to his personal account.
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Najib’s arrest is connected to other allegations — that significant amounts of money were sent to his accounts before the 2013 election — and his second term.
The commission said it will take statements from Najib before Thursday.
“This is to aid police investigations under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” MACC said.
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The former prime minister has pleaded his innocence and said a trial in February 2019 would be a chance to clear his name.
Allegations of corruption began to surface in 2015 when reports alleged about $700 million had been transferred from 1MDB to Najib’s accounts. Najib then fired government officials in his cabinet critical of his leadership. He stepped down in May 2018, following his party’s defeat in the most recent elections.
Najib attempted to clear his name with a post to his Facebook account on Sept. 10, which included a letter from Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, which he said was proof his received “donation” of $100 million was not graft, according to reports.