KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - Malaysian's anti-graft agency said Wednesday that ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak, along with two former high-ranking officials, will face new charges of criminal breach of trust.
The agency said Najib and former treasury chief Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah will be charged together Thursday in "several cases of criminal breach of trust involving the use of Malaysian government funds." It didn't give details but media reports said the charges are linked to the multibillion-dollar looting of the 1MDB state investment fund.
Separately, it said in a statement that Hasanah Abdul Hami, the former chief of the foreign intelligence agency that is now defunct, will also face similar charges in a separate case.
Malaysia's new government has stepped up prosecution of Najib and other former officials over the 1MDB scandal and other alleged graft cases since its stunning electoral victory in May that led to the country's first change of power since independence from Britain in 1957.
The new charges against Najib will be in addition to 32 earlier counts of corruption, breach of trust and money laundering linked to the 1MDB scandal that led to his coalition's ouster. His wife, Rosmah Mansor, was also separately charged with multiple counts of money laundering and tax evasion linked to 1MDB. They both pleaded not guilty and Najib's trial is to start next year.
The 1MDB fund, set up by Najib, is being investigated in the U.S. and several other countries. U.S. investigators say Najib's associates stole and laundered $4.5 billion from the fund from 2009 to 2014, some of which landed in Najib's bank account.
Najib's former deputy, Abdul Zahid Hamidi, who is now the opposition leader, has also been charged with multiple counts of corruption in a separate graft investigation involving millions of dollars.
Najib has accused the government of seeking political vengeance against his family, but Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad brushed off the accusations, saying anyone found guilty of misconduct will have to face the law.