Malaysia charges wife of former PM with receiving bribes of US$45 million

Reuters

Malaysia on Thursday charged Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, with receiving bribes of 189 million ringgit (US$45.12 million) from a company pitching for a government project.

Prosecutors who charged Rosmah with two counts of corruption said the payments concerned a 1.25-billion-ringgit solar project in schools in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo.

She pleaded not guilty to both the charges.

Prosecutors said Rosmah sought a bribe of 187.5 million ringgit in 2016 from an executive of Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd, and received a bribe of 1.5 million ringgit the following year from the official.

A spokeswoman for Jepak Holdings declined to comment to Reuters.

Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, who was for years criticised for her extravagant lifestyle, are at the centre of a wide-ranging graft investigation launched after a stunning election victory and return to power as prime minister in May by veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib has been charged with 38 counts of graft since his election defeat, mostly to do with state fund 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB). Rosmah was last month charged with 17 money laundering offences.

Najib and Rosmah have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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Earlier reports said Rizal Mansor, a former special officer to Najib, would also be charged in connection with the same case.

The anti-graft agency said Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, a former minister in Najib’s cabinet, will also be charged on Thursday related to a land sale.

The 1MDB scandal was one of the major reasons for Najib’s election loss.

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The fund is the subject of corruption and money-laundering investigations in at least six countries.

In civil lawsuits over the last two years, US authorities allege that US$4.5 billion was siphoned from 1MDB and about US$700 million was diverted into Najib’s personal bank accounts.

US prosecutors filed criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers this month as part of their 1MDB investigations.

Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, described by US and Malaysian authorities as central to the 1MDB fraud, was also charged. He remains at large.

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