Police raid former PM’s home as Malaysia steps up 1MDB probe

Police searched Najib Razak’s home for more than six hours, looking for documents in connection with the 1MDB multibillion-dollar corruption inquiry. (Reuters)
Updated 17 May 2018

Police raid former PM’s home as Malaysia steps up 1MDB probe

  • Former PM Najib Razak launched the 1MDB fund under investigation in 2009.
  • US investigators say that at least $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB and laundered by Najib’s associates while up to $700 million landed in his bank account.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police on Thursday raided properties owned by former Prime Minister Najib Razak as part of a renewed investigation into the 1MDB investment fund scandal.

Police searched Najib’s home for more than six hours, looking for documents in connection with the multibillion-dollar corruption inquiry.

Witnesses said that bags and boxes of personal items were seized by the authorities.

1MDB became one of the biggest corruption cases in the world when it emerged in 2015 that $4.5 billion had been stolen from a state investment fund run by Najib.

More than $700 million was alleged to have been siphoned off into Najib’s personal bank accounts, a charge the former prime minister denies.

Harpal Singh Grewal, a former lawyer for Najib, told reporters: “The search is supposed to be under the money laundering act … (but) they found nothing incriminating.”

A photo of Najib sleeping on a couch went viral, prompting criticism of the raid.

“As former victims of early dawn police raids, I must stress my disagreement in ransacking any home at such an ungodly hour,” said Nurul Izzah, an MP and daughter of Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the People’s Justice Party.

However, Eric Paulsen, executive director of Lawyers for Liberty, said: “This is a real crime, involving billions in public funds, not some frivolous social media or sedition comments that led to a house raid. Have some perspective,” he wrote on Twitter.

Professor James Chin, a Malaysia expert at Tasmania University’s Asia Institute, said the raid was necessary, “otherwise documents will be destroyed.”

Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has placed Najib under house arrest and ordered a renewed investigation into the 1MDB scandal.

Last week, Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, were stopped from leaving the country when he decided to fly to Indonesia for “a short break” after losing the election.

Gani Patail, the former auditor-general of Malaysia who ordered the audit on the 1MDB case, has told Mahathir that he was on the verge of prosecuting Najib when he was sacked by the former PM.

A declassified document compiled by Gani revealed a complex network of international money laundering involving sums much larger than previously thought.

“I have been briefed by police and the auditor-general and it is clear there was more wrongdoing than what was known by the public and me,” said Mahathir.

The auditor-general’s report corroborates the findings of the US Department of Justice last year. The department had seized assets bought with the 1MDB funds, including Van Gogh paintings, jewelry and properties in New York.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Mahathir vowed to work with authorities in Switzerland, the US, Singapore and other jurisdictions “to help recover the (1MDB-laundered) money, which can help Malaysia pay off its debts.”

“There is plenty of evidence, not only on Najib, but also other people who are involved,” he said. “When it is necessary to arrest, we will make the arrest according to the law.”

2 killed, 22 injured in large fire at French ski resort

Updated 20 January 2019

2 killed, 22 injured in large fire at French ski resort

PARIS: French officials say two people have been killed and 22 others injured in a large blaze that broke out in the French ski resort of Courchevel.
According to authorities in the Savoie region, the blaze started at 4:30 a.m. local time on Sunday in a building housing seasonal workers located in the heart of the Alpine town.
The Savoie prefecture says 70 firefighters were involved to put the fire under control.
Among the injured, four have been seriously wounded. The fire also forced 60 people to be evacuated from the building.
The cause of the fire and the identity of the victims were not immediately known.