September 19, 2015 / 4:48 AM / 2 years ago

Malaysia PM critic detained for anti-democratic activities amid 1MDB scandal: report

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A former senior member of Malaysia’s ruling party has been detained for six days in connection with activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, state news agency Bernama reported late on Saturday, citing a police director.

Traffic passes a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/Files

Khairuddin Abu Hassan, a critic of Prime Minister Najib Razak, earlier said authorities prevented him from boarding a flight on Friday bound for New York, where he planned to lodge a complaint with police against indebted state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) [TERRN.UL].

“He (Khairuddin) was remanded starting from today (Saturday) onwards until Thursday under Section 124C of the Penal Code... I can’t reveal further information because an investigation is underway,” Bernama quoted Federal Police Criminal Investigation Department director Mohmad Salleh as saying.

Khairuddin has already lodged complaints in Switzerland and Hong Kong regarding banking activity involving 1MDB, which has been linked to various individuals under investigation by Switzerland for suspected corruption.

Khairuddin said on his official Facebook page on Friday that immigration officials prevented him from leaving on orders from Malaysian police, who later asked him to report to Kuala Lumpur’s police headquarters at 11 a.m. (11 p.m. ET on Sunday) on Monday.

“Just now when I asked during a conversation with the investigating officer, he confirmed that I will be questioned by the police for handing in evidence related to the 1MDB scandal to the Swiss Attorney-General’s chambers!!” Khairuddin wrote.

Khairuddin, immigration authorities and the police did not respond to telephone calls and emails seeking comment. 1MDB and the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland declined to comment.

In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that 1MDB transferred $700 million dollars into bank accounts of the prime minister. Najib, who chairs 1MDB’s advisory board, denied taking money from 1MDB for personal gain.

The country’s anti-graft agency declared the funds a donation, while the prime minister has faced anti-government protests and calls to step down.

In February, Najib’s United Malays National Organisation ousted Khairuddin from the party after he was declared bankrupt. Khairuddin has since traveled to several countries to campaign against Najib and 1MDB, which has more than $11 billion in debt.

Khairuddin is not the first person to say he had been prevented from leaving the country.

In July, opposition lawmakers Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli who had been critical of 1MDB said they had been barred without reason from traveling.

On Tuesday, Switzerland’s federal prosecutor said Malaysia had agreed to arrange for Swiss officials to interview witnesses in their investigation of alleged money laundering and corruption related to 1MDB.

Reporting by Yantoultra Ngui; Addtional reporting by John Miller in ZURICH; Editing by Praveen Menon and Christopher Cushing

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