Malaysian authorities have arrested a former aide to ex-premier Najib Razak after reopening an investigation into the 1MDB scandal, state media reported Monday. The new government, which stormed to a shock victory at elections last month, has revived investigations into the sovereign wealth fund, which were shut down by Najib.
Najib, his family and cronies were alleged to have stolen billions of dollars from the investment vehicle in an eye-watering fraud that stretched around the globe. Disgust at the allegations — denied by Najib and 1MDB — were a major factor in his coalition’s poll defeat.
The 42-year-old aide, whose identity was not disclosed, was arrested late Sunday after giving a statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, state-run news agency Bernama reported.
He appeared in court Monday morning, covering his face as he was taken in handcuffs into the building. A judge granted the commission’s request for him to be remanded in custody for a week to help with investigations, Bernama said.
The man was Najib’s aide from 2009 until he resigned on June 5, a month after the long-ruling coalition lost power. He had previously worked at the central bank.
The commission’s investigation is in relation to soliciting or receiving bribes. Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor, widely reviled for her love of overseas shopping trips and vast collection of handbags, have already been questioned by graft investigators over allegations that money from a former 1MDB subsidiary ended up in his bank account.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who first served as premier from 1981-2003 and came out of retirement aged 92 to take on Najib, campaigned on claims that the former leader and his cronies looted 1MDB.