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
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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.”


Pakistan heatwave kills 65 people in Karachi — welfare organization

Updated 48 min 23 sec ago
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Pakistan heatwave kills 65 people in Karachi — welfare organization

  • Temperatures hit 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) on Monday
  • Most of the dead were low wage factory workers who work around heaters and boilers in textile factories and there is eight to nine hours of scheduled power outages in these areas, says Faisal Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation

ISLAMABAD: A heatwave has killed 65 people in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi over the past three days, a social welfare organization said on Tuesday, amid fears the death toll could climb as the high temperatures persist.
The heatwave has coincided with power outages and the holy month of Ramadan, when most Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. Temperatures hit 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) on Monday, local media reported.
Faisal Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation that operates morgues and an ambulance service in Pakistan’s biggest city, said the deaths occurred mostly in the poor areas of Karachi.
“Sixty-five people have died over the last three days,” Edhi told Reuters. “We have the bodies in our cold storage facilities and their neighborhood doctors have said they died of heat-stroke.”
A government spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
But Sindh province’s Health Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho told the English-language Dawn newspaper that no one has died from heat-stroke.
“Only doctors and hospitals can decide whether the cause of death was heat-stroke or not. I categorically reject that people have died due to heat-stroke in Karachi,” Pechuho was quoted as saying.
Nonetheless, reports of heat stroke deaths in Karachi will stir unease amid fears of a repeat of a heatwave in of 2015, when morgues and hospitals were overwhelmed and at least 1,300 mostly elderly and sick people died from the searing heat.
In 2015, the Edhi morgue ran out of freezer space after about 650 bodies were brought in the space of a few days. Ambulances left decaying corpses outside in sweltering heat.
The provincial government has assured residents that there would be no repeat of 2015 and was working on ensuring those in need of care receive rapid treatment.
Edhi said most of the dead brought to the morgue were working class factory workers who came from the low-income Landhi and Qur’angi areas of Karachi.
“They work around heaters and boilers in textile factories and there is eight to nine hours of (scheduled power outages) in these areas,” he said.
Temperatures are expected to stay above 40C until Thursday, local media reported.