Malaysia's Najib pleads not guilty to money laundering as charges pile up

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Malaysia's Najib pleads not guilty to money laundering as charges pile up

Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak smiles as he leaves Duta court complex in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has claimed trial to three counts of money laundering at the High Court here.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was on Wednesday charged with three counts of money laundering in connection with a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Najib, 65, has been consistent in saying he is not guilty of any of the charges brought against him.

The charges - which Najib denies - relate to three transfers totalling 42m ringgit (US$10m) into his bank accounts from SRC International, a former unit of the 1MDB fund that USA investigators say was looted of billions by Najib's associates.

Najib is facing a long time behind bars if found guilty - the money-laundering charges carry maximum jail terms of 15 years each, while the other four charges carry sentences of 20 years each.

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Najib chaired the 1mdb the whole time while the sovereign fund became bankrupt and had to sell its assets - bought at higher prices than market value - to recover its debts, the opposition said during the elections.

The case was earlier heard before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi, who allowed the prosecution's application to transfer the case to the High Court.

SRC, created in 2011 by Najib's government to pursue overseas investment in energy resources, was a unit of 1MDB until it was moved to the finance ministry in 2012.

Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, an aspiring film producer, is also alleged to have used millions from the fund.

"The charges are related to the SRC International case", it said in a statement.

After Najib left its office, the anti-graft agency said he would be charged under the anti-money laundering act.

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.

On Tuesday, a luxury yacht allegedly paid for with money stolen from 1MDB arrived outside Kuala Lumpur after being handed over by Indonesian authorities.

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