Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak pleaded not guilty to three new charges on Wednesday in connection to the alleged money-laundering of $10.3m deposited into his personal bank accounts.
It was the latest criminal proceedings Najib faces amid several other charges as the country’s new government looks for answers to how billions of dollars went missing from a state fund, known as 1MDB, during his reign.
Wearing a dark grey suit, Najib, 65, smiled and waved to reporters as he arrived at court.
Abuse of power and breach of trust charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count. Fines as much as five times the amount for each money-laundering charge can be imposed as well.
The three new charges bring the total number against Najib so far to seven.
Najib has denied all accusations against him and was released on bail. His trial date will be decided on Friday when the court will also hear an application for a permanent gag order from Najib’s lawyer to prevent public discussion of the case.
Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency launched an investigation into the 1MDB state fund after Najib suffered a surprise defeat in May’s general elections.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed made reopening investigations into 1MBD one of his top priorities after assuming office.
Malaysian police seized bags of cash and jewellery worth $273m from properties linked to Najib and his family in May.
A $250m yacht at the heart of the corruption scandal – the biggest ever in Malaysia – arrived back in the country on Tuesday after being seized in Indonesia. It was allegedly bought with money stolen from 1MBD.
At least six countries are involved in an international investigation into the state fund, including Singapore, the United States, and Switzerland.
The US justice department has said more than $4bn was misappropriated by high-level Malaysian officials.