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Najib ‘to face further charges’

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Equanimity, the luxury yacht involved in the 1MDB controversy that has engulfed Najib Razak, arrives in Malaysia on Tuesday. AFP

Najib ‘to face further charges’

Malaysia’s disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak was set to face further questioning on Tuesday by the country’s anti-corruption agency and will be hit with more criminal charges, official media reported.

Najib, who unexpectedly lost power in elections in May, was arrested and charged last month with three counts of criminal breach of trust. He was also separately charged with abusing his position to pocket 42 million ringgit ($10.3 million).

Malaysia’s new government is probing the disappearance of billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, which was set up and overseen by Najib.

The former leader, his family and cronies are accused of embezzling huge sums that were used to buy everything from artwork to high-end real estate in a sophisticated fraud that spanned the globe.

The graft allegations were a major factor in the defeat of Najib’s long-ruling coalition by a reformist alliance headed by 93-year-old political heavyweight Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib was due to be questioned at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission later in the afternoon, official news agency Bernama reported.

He will be slapped with three additional charges related to money-laundering when he appears in court Wednesday, Bernama reported. They are linked to SRC International, an energy company that was originally a subsidiary of 1MDB, it said.

According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, $10.6 million originating from SRC was transferred to Najib’s personal bank accounts. The first charges against Najib also related to SRC.

Najib has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

Shortly after his downfall, a treasure trove of valuables was seized in raids on properties linked to Najib and his family – including cash, jewellery and luxury handbags – worth up to $273 million.

‘Delicate negotiations’

Meanwhile, a luxury yacht allegedly paid for with funds from a multibillion-dollar scandal that helped topple Malaysia’s government arrived outside Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, with authorities hoping it will help in their prosecution of the country’s disgraced former leader.

The 300-foot (90-metre) Equanimity, equipped with pool, helicopter landing pad and cinema, belonged to Jho Low, a flamboyant international financier who allegedly played a central role in the 1MDB controversy that has engulfed former prime minister Razak.

The yacht – worth about $250 million – was handed over by Indonesian authorities who had seized it off the tourist island of Bali in February.

The large, blue and white boat arrived in Port Klang, west of the capital, after setting sail from the Indonesian island of Batam. It was accompanied by a Malaysian navy frigate and three smaller vessels.

A large team of officials was seen entering the yacht.

Malaysia’s attorney-general welcomed the boat being turned over, and said that “sensitive and delicate negotiations” had taken place between Malaysia, Indonesia and the US to ensure it happened.

Indonesian authorities impounded the boat on a request from the US Department of Justice, which is seeking to seize $1.7 billion of assets allegedly bought with money looted from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

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