‘I Am Not A Thief,’ Says Former Malaysia PM After Arrest

Fresh from being slapped with four charges of abuse of power and 21 charges of money laundering in relation to the theft of billions of dollars from a Malaysia state fund, Najib Razak, former prime minister of Malaysia, told reporters he wasn’t a thief.

800px-Najib Razak 2008-08-21Najib Razak (Malaysian government)"As we all know, the (2.6 billion ringgit) issue was used relentlessly to criticize and tarnish my name all this while,” he said to reporters after appearing at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Thursday.

“All the charges today will give me a chance to clear my name--that I am not a thief.” 

Razak’s arrest was announced Wednesday afternoon by Malaysia’s Anti Corruption Commission.

The charges are connected to about 2.6 billion ringgit (now US$ 628.33 million) that he received in his personal account in 2013, allegedly bribes related to the 1MDB scandal, which shook the financial world and has led to probes in at least 10 countries.

1MDB, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, was a state fund started in 2009 designed to attract foreign investment. However, while it accumulated significant debt--$12 billion--it didn’t lure many buyers. 

Then, in 2016, allegations mounted that senior Malaysian officials had siphoned off money from the beleaguered fund into shell companies and personal accounts designed to look like legitimate businesses. 

The officials were reputedly led by Singaporean financier Jho Low, the alleged owner of a $250 million yacht recently returned to Malaysia. Najib was one of the officials implicated in the scandal.

The charges against him involve a laundry list of bribes over deals he made with various energy companies who made deals with the fund. The most serious of the charges facing Najib carry a maximum 20-year jail term. 

Najib has maintained his innocence. 

“Every human being of God gives advantages and disadvantages, every day of life is a pleasure and a test. Thanks to all those who pray for me. Only God can repay, only God knows what I feel and pass. I believe the truth will be manifest,” he wrote on Twitter today.