Missing billions: Ex-Malaysian PM Najib Razak denies money laundering in court

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Najib will be charged at the Kuala Lumpur Court under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement yesterday.

Last month Najib pleaded not guilty to abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust, just two months after the allegation led to his stunning election defeat.

Razak has already refuted three counts of money laundering for allegedly collecting $10.3 million (Rs 71 crore) as part of a multi-billion-dollar financial scandal, The Telegraph reported.

Najib stood calmly in the dock Wednesday as the charges were read to him.

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Last month, Najib was arrested and charged with abuse of power and criminal breach of trust.

A money laundering offence carries a penalty of a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine of at least fives times the value of the proceeds of any illegal transfers, or 5m ringgit, whichever is the higher.

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High Court Judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said a decision on when the trial begins, and on the gag order, would be made on Friday.

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Investigations into 1MDB have been moving swiftly. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges and was released after posting bail, but his passport was held.

Najib and his allies are accused of plundering billions of dollars from 1MDB to buy everything from United States real estate to artworks.

Najib set up 1MDB when he took power in 2009 for the stated objective of promoting economic development, but the fund amassed billions in debts and is being investigated in the US and several other countries for alleged cross-border embezzlement and money laundering.

In July, the police said they had seized $225 million in luxury handbags, jewellery, cash and goods from six properties linked to the former leader.

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Earlier this week, Indonesia handed over to Malaysia a $250 million superyacht that had been impounded following claims by the U.S. Department of Justice that it was purchased by fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho with funds siphoned off from 1MDB.