Malaysian anti-corruption agents arrested former Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday following a probe into how money went missing from a state fund he founded almost a decade ago and he was expected to be charged in court on Wednesday.
Since his shock election loss to Mahathir Mohamad in May, Najib has been barred from leaving the country, quizzed by the anti-graft agency and had his houses searched as part of the probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Mahathir said in an interview last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that Malaysia was looking to bring against Najib, adding they had an almost perfect case against him.
Najib’s arrest was in relation to a probe into SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, a task force investigating the fund said.
Anti-graft agents picked up Najib from his home after serving him with a remand order, two sources close to the family said.
Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing in dealings with 1MDB.
Founded by Najib in 2009, 1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.
The scandal around 1MDB plagued Najib’s second term in office, eventually leading to the ousting of a coalition that had ruled Malaysia since its independence from Britain in 1957.
Civil lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice allege that nearly $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB.
Three years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Malaysian investigators traced nearly $700 million of 1MDB money into Najib’s personal bank account.
Najib insisted the funds were a donation from a Saudi royal.
The former head of Malaysia’s central bank said on Tuesday that in 2015 Najib asked her to issue a statement saying he had done nothing wrong in his account which she declined.
The initial focus of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation has focused on how 42 million ringgit (an equivalent of $10.6 million) went from SRC International into Najib’s account.
SRC was created in 2011 by Najib’s government to pursue overseas investments in energy resources, and was a unit of 1MDB until it was moved to the finance ministry in 2012.
MACC has been able to track the money trail from SRC more easily because transactions were made through Malaysian entities, whereas most other transfers of 1MDB funds went through foreign banks and companies.
Malaysian police say they have seized nearly $275 million worth of jewelery, handbags, watches and cash from premises linked to Najib, while authorities have frozen more than 400 bank accounts as part of the 1MDB probe.
Najib’s wife, Rosmah, has also been quizzed by anti-graft investigators in relation to 1MDB and Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, was giving a statement to the MACC when news broke of Najib’s arrest.
Riza is the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, a company that U.S. prosecutors say financed three Hollywood films, including the 2013 Martin Scorsese movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, with funds misappropriated by 1MDB.