Malaysia’s former prime minister filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Najib Razak Wednesday, alleging government funds were transferred into the current leader’s personal bank account.
Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's lawsuit accuses Najib of the “corrupt practice of carrying out various steps that were actively and deliberately taken in bad faith… to obstruct, interfere, impede and derail the various investigations and inquiries, which were being conducted by various legal enforcement agencies.”
The suit stems from long-running allegations of corruption tied to a state-owned development company some believe Najib used to divert more than $680 million into his personal bank account and the accounts of his associates.
FILE - Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak waves a national flag during National Day celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, August 31, 2015. He denies all allegations of financial wrongdoing in the case brought against him.
In the past, Najib denied any foul play tied to the funds and has said the money was a gift from the Saudi royal family to help him win the 2013 election. The donations came in the form of several wire transfers made to Najib’s account during late March and early April 2013.
Malaysia’s attorney general – who was appointed by Najib – cleared the leader of any criminal or corruption charges in January, following an investigation by Malaysia’s anti-graft agency.
During a news conference held to announce an end to the investigation, Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said the money did not constitute bribery and said Najib returned around $620 million to the Saudi royal family because he had not used it.
“There was no reason given as to why the donation was made to PM Najib – that is between him and the Saudi royal family,” The Guardian newspaper reports Apandi as saying.
But Mahathir and dozens of other Malaysian politicians are not accepting the official explanation, and are now seeking damages from Najib equal to the amount they say was deposited into his bank account.
Mahathir was joined in the lawsuit by several other former members of the United Malay National Organization (UMNO) political party. They called on Najib to step down as Malaysia’s prime minister.