Former Malaysia Prime Minister, an ex-finance ministry official and a former spy chief were charged with misusing public funds on Thursday, the latest corruption cases against figures from the scandal-plagued old regime.
Former prime minister Najib Razak has now been hit with 38 charges since losing power, most related to allegations that he and his cronies plundered vast sums from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
The scandal played a major part in prompting voters to oust his coalition at elections in May after six decades in power and elect a reformist alliance headed by Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib was jointly charged in a Kuala Lumpur court with Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah — former treasury secretary-general, a key finance ministry position — with misusing 6.6 billion ringgit ($1.6 billion) of public money.
They were charged with six counts of criminal breach of trust over offenses that allegedly took place between December 2016 and December 2017.
They denied all the charges. Four of those related to 1MDB’s dealings with Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund IPIC, the anti-corruption agency said.
The others were overpayments related to two Chinese-backed infrastructure projects — a major rail link and the construction of gas pipelines, Najib’s lawyer Shafee Abdullah said.
He insisted Najib had simply been making payments to avoid defaulting on debts, which would have been disastrous for the economy.
The Chinese-financed projects have been suspended by Mahathir Mohamad ’s government, which suspects the deals were dubious and aimed at raising cash quickly to pay 1MDB debts.
The fund slid into a massive debt hole as huge sums of money were allegedly stolen and used to buy everything from a super-yacht to a high-end real estate and pricey artworks.