Malaysia’s former deputy premier quizzed in 1MDB graft probe
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s former deputy premier was quizzed by the anti-corruption agency Monday as part of an expanded investigation into alleged theft and money-laundering at the 1MDB state investment fund.
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was elected over the weekend as the new chief of the former ruling party, smiled and waved at reporters upon arrival at the agency. The agency recently froze the party’s bank accounts as part of its investigation.
Local media said Zahid is expected to be grilled on his claims in 2015 that he had met representatives of the Arab family who donated some $700 million that made its way to then Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank account. Anger over the 1MDB saga led to the shocking defeat of Najib’s long-ruling coalition in May 9 polls and ushered in the first change of power since independence from Britain in 1957.
Zahid, 65, made the claim shortly after he was appointed as deputy premier in 2015 after Najib fired his then deputy for questioning him over the 1MDB saga.
Najib stepped down as head of the United Malays National Organization, or UMNO party, after his electoral defeat and could face criminal charges soon. The new government has reopened investigations into 1MDB that were stifled under Najib’s rule and has banned Najib and his wife from leaving the country.
Analysts said Zahid’s election to lead UMNO on Saturday reflected a reluctance to change in the party, which is now the biggest opposition party and holds a quarter of parliamentary seats. The National Front coalition that UMNO headed has since broken up after many component parties left.
Zahid has said he will also be questioned over alleged misuse of funds at a charity foundation run by his family and pledged to cooperate with the agency.