Malaysia’s former PM Najib questioned ahead of pre-trial hearing

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian anti-graft agents questioned embattled former premier Najib Razak on Tuesday ahead of his pre-trial hearing in court in connection with the multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

FILE PHOTO: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks to Reuters during an interview in Melbourne March 4, 2011. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas

Najib, 65, and his family have faced intense scrutiny since May when a shock election result brought his former mentor-turned-foe, 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, back to power.

Mahathir swiftly reopened an investigation into 1MDB and barred Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor from leaving the country.

Last month, Najib was arrested and charged with abuse of power and criminal breach of trust related to an alleged transfer of 42 million ringgit ($10.31 million) into his personal bank account from SRC International, a former unit of state fund 1MDB.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released after posting bail. He is expected to attend a pre-trial hearing in court on Wednesday.

Najib arrived at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office at 5 p.m. (0900 GMT) in a four-car motorcade.

He was in the building for about 45 minutes after which his motorcade was seen leaving the premises. MACC and Najib’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

1MDB is being investigated by at least six countries, including Singapore, Switzerland and the United States, over alleged money laundering and graft.

The U.S. Department of Justice says an estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Joseph Sipalan; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Michael Perry & Simon Cameron-Moore

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