Malaysia’s opposition leader Najib Razak was on Friday hit with 45 charges in a $26 million corruption case.
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, a former deputy premier and ally of scandal-mired ex-leader, is accused of crimes that include accepting bribes to award government contracts and money-laundering.
The 65-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges, and will stand trial.
“I am ready to face all these charges thrown at me. It is a test from Allah,” Ahmad Zahid told reporters.
A crowd of supporters turned up outside the court in Kuala Lumpur where he was being charged, waving banners that read “we reject the cruel treatment of our leader”. Najib also attended the hearing to offer support.
The veteran politician is head of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the lynchpin in a coalition of parties that ruled Malaysia from independence in 1957 until their shock defeat in May polls.
Najib has also been arrested and charged over allegations he oversaw the plundering of state fund 1MDB, a scandal that played a major part in the election defeat.
Hamidi is facing 27 money-laundering charges, eight counts of accepting bribes, and 10 for criminal breach of trust.
The total amount of money involved in all the charges amounts to some 111 million ringgit ($26.6 million).
Hamidi was released on bail of two million ringgit. His next hearing is set for December 14.