Malaysia’s former Deputy PM arrested for alleged graft

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on October 18 arrested former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in an investigation into suspected misappropriation of funds from a charity foundation.

Malaysia's former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Malaysia's former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Ahmad Zahid, who is now President of the opposition United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), was detained after he presented himself at the MACC headquarters for the charges of “abuse of power, breach of trust, and money laundering".

He will be brought to a Kuala Lumpur court on October 19 to face several charges under anti-corruption and money laundering laws, the MACC said.

It gave no further details but local media reported that he was accused of misappropriating 800,000 ringgit (over 190,000 USD) from a foundation he chairs to settle credit card payments for himself and his wife in 2014 and 2015.

Ahmad Zahid has denied wrongdoing. He said the payments were made in error by an aide and that he has since repaid the amount.

He is the latest former high-ranking official to be arrested over suspected graft since the election in May.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, face multiple charges in connection with a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Najib has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to 32 criminal charges involving more than 2.3 billion ringgit (553.6 million USD) allegedly siphoned from 1MDB. Meanwhile, Rosmah has pleaded not guilty to 17 money-laundering offences.

In June, the MACC said it had frozen several accounts linked to UMNO as part of their investigations into 1MDB.

Najib founded the 1MDB investment fund in 2009, supposedly to serve Malaysia’s development through global partnerships and foreign direct investment.

However, it became the centre of a money laundering scandal, allegedly causing losses of up to 3.7 billion USD and leading to probes into the financial markets in several countries such as the US, Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia and China.

US authorities said more than 4.5 billion USD was misappropriated from 1MDB, and nearly 700 million USD from the fund was diverted into Najib's personal bank accounts.

From the raids on several of Najib’s properties in Kuala Lumpur, police seized valuables worth up to 273 million USD. 

Najib will go on trial on February 12, 2019. The trial will run from February 12 to March 29, 2019. If convicted, he will face multi-year prison sentences.-VNA

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