Malaysian police have conducted searches through the night and into the morning at five places linked to ousted prime minister Najib Razak, including the family home where he stays, a senior police officer said.
- As well as his home, police searched the former PM’s office, official residence and two properties in a luxury condominium
- Najib Razak is the founder of 1MDB, which faces investigations of a multi-billion-dollar scandal
- Mr Najib was barred from leaving the country by new PM Mahathir Mohamad
A lawyer for Mr Najib, who was ousted from office in last week’s general election, said Malaysian police seized handbags and other personal items from Mr Najib’s home in connection with a money-laundering probe.
At least a dozen armed policemen entered Mr Najib’s home late on Wednesday after he returned from prayers at a mosque.
The search at the family home was continuing at 10am (local time), nearly 12 hours after a dozen armed policemen first entered the premises, during which officers were seen taking large bags into the house and later loading them into a truck.
“The search is supposed to be under money-laundering act … they found nothing incriminating,” Mr Najib’s lawyer Harpal Singh Grewal told reporters who were camped outside the house.
He said the police took some personal possessions including a couple of handbags.
“Nothing serious. About two, three boxes” of them, Mr Harpal said.
When asked whether Mr Najib would be arrested, he said: “There is no indication that they (the police) will do it.”
Police director Amar Singh said police are searching a total of five locations linked to the ousted prime minister.
Mr Singh, the head of the commercial crime department, did not provide any other details.
Other than Mr Najib’s private residence, police are also searching the prime minister’s office and the official residence, The Star newspaper reported.
Two places at a condominium where Najib’s family is believed to own property were also searched, it said, with several dozen policemen seen in the complex.
Mr Najib’s long-ruling political coalition was defeated in a general election last week.
Just days later, new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad barred Mr Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, from leaving the country.
Dr Mahathir, 92, has said there is sufficient evidence to investigate a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which was founded by Mr Najib.
On Wednesday, Dr Mahathir said the Government will make arrests as soon as there is clear evidence and reiterated that there will be “no deal” for Mr Najib in the scandal.
Once Dr Mahathir’s protege, Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing.
He said he has met with ousted attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail, who said he had been preparing to file criminal charges against Mr Najib when he was abruptly removed in 2015.
Mr Gani led an investigation by multiple agencies into the scandal at the time, which was later closed after Mr Najib was cleared of wrongdoing.
Dr Mahathir said the Government will seek to retrieve billions of dollars laundered from 1MDB to repay government debts that have piled up over the years.
“The focus on corruption is important because we need to get back money which is still in Switzerland, the US, Singapore and maybe Luxembourg. For this, we will contact the governments of the countries to recover the money there,” Dr Mahathir said.
“The money belongs to Malaysia and it came from 1MDB. We will appeal for the money to be returned to Malaysia.”
He said the Government is also committed to repaying any debts linked to the fund that it has guaranteed.
The scandal is also being investigated by police in at least six countries, including the US.