MALAYSIA:, MAY 17,
The Malaysian police spent hours early on Thursday searching former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s house, reportedly part of a money-laundering investigation linked to a state investment fund that is being investigated abroad.
More than a dozen police vehicles arrived at Mr. Razak’s house late on Wednesday shortly after he returned home from prayers at a nearby mosque, fuelling speculation that he may be arrested after new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned that he could be charged soon over the 1MDB fund fiasco.
Scouring for evidence
Commercial crime director Amar Singh Ishar Singh told media that police were searching for evidence in an ongoing probe and that it was being carried out at five locations. He declined to give details. Police officials couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
National Bernama news agency cited sources as saying police were searching for documents related to 1MDB and that raids occurred simultaneously at the former Prime Minister’s office, the official residence and an upscale condominium in the city.
Mr. Mohamad has not yet moved into the Prime Minister’s office or residence. He reopened a probe into the 1MDB scandal after his alliance won a stunning election victory last week, ousting Mr. Razak and ending the National Front’s 60-year grip on power. Mr. Razak started the fund in 2009 and U.S. investigators say at least $4.5 billion was stolen and laundered by the former Prime Minister’s associates, some of which landed in his bank account.
Mr. Razak’s lawyer Harpal Singh Grewal told reporters outside the house early on Thursday that police didn’t seize any incriminating documents, just several boxes of personal possessions including handbags and clothing.
On Wednesday, Mr. Mohamad said the government would make arrests as soon as there was clear evidence and reiterated that there would be “no deal” for Mr. Razak in the scandal.
Mr. Mohamad (92) said an initial investigation showed the scale of wrongdoing by Mr. Razak’s administration was more serious than expected.
Filthy lucre will foot mounting debts
Mr. Mohamad has said the government will seek to retrieve billions of dollars laundered from 1MDB to repay government debts that have piled up over the years.
“The focus on corruption is important because we need to get back money which is still in Switzerland, the U.S., Singapore and maybe Luxembourg. For this, we will contact the governments of the countries to recover the money there,” Mr. Mohamad said.
“The money belongs to Malaysia and it came from 1MDB. We will appeal for the money to be returned to Malaysia.”
Mr. Razak and his wife have been barred from leaving Malaysia. The government has also told the current attorney general, who cleared Mr. Razak of wrongdoing in 2016, to go on leave, and has relieved the country’s treasury chief, who is also the 1MDB chairman.
Mr. Mohamad, who was Prime Minister for 22 years until in 2003, emerged from retirement to join hands with former political foes to oust Mr. Razak amid anger over the 1MDB scandal. He has said his new government is also seeking to cut wastage in the government, including possibly axing 17,000 political appointees.
Not a good and simple tax
The Finance Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that a 6 percent goods and services tax introduced by Mr. Razak in 2016 to boost government revenues will be abolished June 1. The tax has been blamed for raising the cost of living and has angered many Malaysians.