Malaysia’s ex-premier pleads not guilty to money laundering

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Mr Najib was arrested in July and has already been charged with breach of trust and abusing his position.

Former prime minister Najib Razak left the Jalan Duta Court Complex here this afternoon amid heavy police escort after claiming trial to three charges of money laundering.

The charges were related to accusations that 42 million ringgit (about USA $10.3 million) was illegally diverted into Najib's personal bank accounts from SRC International, an energy company that used to be a subsidiary of the state fund 1MDB.

Each charge is punishable by up to 15 years' jail and a fine of not less than five times the proceeds of the illegal activity.

The new government reopened the investigations stifled under Najib's rule and barred him and his wife from leaving the country.

The 65-year-old, who is free on bail, has denied all the charges.

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Earlier, the head of the Appellate and Trial Division in the Attorney-General's Chambers, Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria, applied for the case to be transferred to the High Court.

In 2015, the former prime minister resisted demands to step down despite reports of financial mismanagement at the government-owned company 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and allegations that he had received $681 million (Rs 4,425 crore) in his personal bank account.

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

The charges under Section 4 (1) of the Anti-Money-Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2002 (AMLATFPUAA) were initially read out to Najib at the Sessions Court before judge Azura Alwi earlier this morning.

Mr Najib, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and his allies are accused of plundering billions of dollars from 1MDB to buy everything from U.S. real estate to artworks. On Tuesday, a luxury yacht allegedly paid for with about $250m stolen from 1MDB arrived outside Kuala Lumpur after being handed over by Indonesian authorities, who impounded it following a request for the US Department of Justice.

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