Malaysia is hoping to make its first arrest linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign wealth fund within months and is looking to bring charges of embezzlement and bribery against former prime minister Najib Razak.
New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said investigators had “an almost perfect case” targeting key suspects in the 1MDB probe, including Najib, and that a trial could begin by the end of the year.
Mahathir, 92, said the probe involved Rosmah Mansor, Najib’s wife, based on the suspicion that she received embezzled assets.
The US Department of Justice has alleged more than US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB and that about US$700 million ended up in Najib’s personal bank accounts.
Low Taek Jho, a Malaysian and socialite who allegedly helped set up 1MDB, is among the other suspects.
Low and Najib deny any wrongdoing.
The father of a Mongolian model murdered in 2006 in shadowy circumstances has asked Mahathir to reopen the investigation.
Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot dead and her body destroyed with plastic explosives outside Kuala Lumpur in October 2006. Two specialist police bodyguards were convicted for her murder.
Abdul Razak Baginda, a close aide to then-defence minister Najib Razak, was reportedly her lover, and was tried but acquitted of involvement. No culprit was ever established. Altantuya, 28, was pregnant when she was killed.
Her father Setev Shaariibuu met Attorney General Tommy Thomas and is due to ask Mahathir at a meeting today (Wednesday) to reopen the case.
“Nobody is above the law,” he told the media. “I will ask him to solve my problem and bring justice for me.”
His Malaysian lawyer Ramkarpal Singh said: “We are quite optimistic that in light of this discussion with the attorney general, that the chances for the matter being investigated further will happen.”
Altantuya’s death is under fresh scrutiny because of the possibility that it can be openly investigated following the change in government. There has been speculation that Najib might be involved because the two men convicted were his bodyguards.
Altantuya, who worked as a translator for Razak Baginda, allegedly had knowledge of a murky deal concerning the purchase of submarines from France and had threatened to expose the agreement, which was signed while Najib was defence minister.
One of the bodyguards escaped to Australia while his conviction was under appeal. Sirul Azhar Umar has been in Australian detention since 2015 for overstaying his visa, and recently asked to return to Malaysia to provide evidence in exchange for a pardon. The other bodyguard is on death row.
Rosmah Mansor and Najib Razak. Picture credit: YouTube