Najib Razak has been under investigation by police. (Reuters: Olivia Harris)
Task force probing 1MDB freezes hundreds of bank accounts
It took 3 days, 6 machines and 22 officials to count cash and goods seized in Najib Razak raid
Walls around former Malaysian PM Najib Razak closing in
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been arrested, Malaysia’s anti-corruption task force told the ABC, amid an investigation into how billions of dollars went missing from a state fund he founded almost a decade ago.
- Authorities say Razak will be charged on Wednesday
- Raids on Najib’s property recovered $370 million in cash and goods
- 1MDB being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money-laundering and corruption
Authorities picked Mr Najib up from his home after serving him with a remand order, two sources close to the family said.
Charges, including embezzlement and bribery with government money, are expected to be handed down early Wednesday morning.
Mr Najib was arrested at his Kuala Lumpur home at 2:35pm (local time), sources said.
In a pre-recorded message posted on Twitter after his arrest, Mr Najib said not all the accusations against him and his family were true.
@NajibRazak: tweet following arrest over 1MDB scandal
“If you hear this message, action has been taken against me,” Mr Najib said as the video begins.
“Let investigations be carried out. I have not had a chance to defend myself,” Najib said.
He added that there had been rumours and fake news spread about his time as leader.
“I have done my best, but I realised it is not enough. I admit there are many weaknesses … as a normal human being, I am not perfect but believe me, that the accusations against me and my family are not all true,” he said.
“I will face it with perseverance. Truly, Allah knows.”
Mr Najib’s arrest was in relation to SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, a task force investigating the fund said.
Sources close to the matter said he may face several charges.
A spokesman for Mr Najib said the SRC charges and the 1MDB investigations against the former leader were “politically motivated”, and Mr Najib will contest the charges and clear his name in court.
Mr Najib has been under investigation over the misappropriation of billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB infrastructure fund.
He has consistently denied wrongdoing claiming no knowledge of how the money had found its way into his personal account.
Video: Najib Razak was 'totally responsible for 1MDB', the Malaysian PM says. (Pic: AP)
But raids of homes linked to the former prime minister recovered $370 million in cash and goods.
It took three days, six counting machines and 22 officials from the central bank to count the seized cash, totalling $39.2 million.
Millions of dollars worth of jewellery, handbags, watches and other items were also seized.
Family under suspicion
Mr Najib’s wife is also under investigation and his stepson, Riza Aziz, was brought in for questioning earlier along with a Hollywood film producer, as part of the probe into alleged theft and money-laundering.
Riza Aziz arrives at Anti-Corruption Agency in Putrajaya, Malaysia. (AP: Vincent Thian)
Mr Riza was solemn as he arrived at the anti-graft office and did not speak to reporters.
US investigators say Mr Riza’s company, Red Granite Pictures Inc., used money stolen from 1MDB to finance Hollywood films including the Martin Scorsese-directed The Wolf of Wall Street.
Time for tough questions
The metaphor that illustrates the graft and sleaze of Najib Razak’s reign is 300ft yacht Equanamity. 4 Corners reporter Linton Besser asks whether Mr Najib will finally have to answer the corruption allegations which surrounded his prime ministership.
Red Granite agreed in March to pay the US Government $60 million to settle claims it benefited from the 1MDB scandal.
Since his shock election loss to Mahathir Mohamad in May, Mr Najib has been barred from leaving the country, quizzed by the anti-corruption agency and had his personal and family houses searched as part of the 1MDB probe.
Mr Mahathir said in an interview last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that Malaysia was looking to bring against Mr Najib, adding they had “an almost perfect case” against him.
It is unclear how many charges Najib will or if he will be allowed to apply for bail.
Founded by Mr Najib in 2009, 1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and corruption.
Civil lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice allege that nearly $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB.
Video: Malaysian police raid the home of former prime minister Najib Razak (Photo: AP)