Malaysia (HRNW): Malaysian police have searched the home of ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak, one week after he lost the national election. Multiple police vehicles were seen circulating in front of his house after night fall, according to local media. The new prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, previously said he was looking into re-opening corruption investigations against his former ally. Mr Najib denies any wrongdoing. He was put under a travel ban at the weekend. He had attempted to leave the country to go on holiday with his wife on Saturday. Police confirmed the search of his property, but did not give any further details, the New Straits Times newspaper reported. Mr Najib has long been dogged by corruption allegations related to a state fund he founded.
In 2015, he was accused of diverting $700m (£517m) from the fund, but he was cleared by authorities. More than 100 people, including police, journalists and members of the public, were gathered outside his residence, according to Reuters. Several police officers entered the house after he returned home from prayers at a mosque, a witness told the news agency. Mr Najib’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered a shock electoral defeat in the 9 May election. His 92-year-old former mentor was sworn in on Thursday, and said he would seek the return of millions of dollars lost in the scandal. Mr Mahathir has already replaced the attorney-general and officials at the anti-corruption agency. This week he also freed reformist politician Anwar Ibrahim, a former rival, who was jailed for sodomy, a conviction widely seen as politically motivated.
Mr Mahathir struck a deal with Mr Anwar, offering a pardon if would back him when he switched parties to run as an opposition candidate. Under the agreement, Mr Mahathir will serve as prime minister for two years, before handing power to Mr Anwar. On Wednesday, Mr Anwar told the media it was a difficult deal to make. “My children were in tears because they thought, ‘Why do you need to work with this guy?'” However, he said he overcame his misgivings. “We have to move on. We are talking about the country, we are talking about saving Malaysia,” he said. Najib Razak has long faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement over the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he set up in 2009.
The fund was meant to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments. But it started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the $11bn it owed to banks and bondholders. Then the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported it had seen a paper trail that allegedly traced close to $700m from the fund to Mr Najib’s personal bank accounts. Mr Najib has consistently denied taking money from 1MDB or any public funds.