A Malaysian court on Thursday charged former Prime Minister Najib Razak with six new corruption charges in relation to alleged embezzlement involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund.
Najib, 65, who is out on bail for previous charges, was accused of abuse of power and money laundering of government funds, during his appearance in court, Efe news reported.
Along with Najib, former Treasury Secretary General Irwan Serigar was also was charged for the same accounts of corruption.
Each of the charges is punishable by between two and 20 years in prison, to which could be added a fine.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges, local media reported.
The new charges were added to the already existing 32 cases of corruption against Najib with all of them being related to the 1MDB investigations.
The court also plans to call Rosmah Mansor, wife of Najib – who is also charged with 17 counts of money laundering and tax evasion in connection with a corruption scheme for which Razak is also being prosecuted – for taking her statements later on Thursday.
Najib was Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2009 until May, when, plagued by corruption scandals, he lost the general elections to the opposition led by veteran Mahathir Mohamad, his former mentor.
The corruption scandal at 1MDB was uncovered in 2015 by an investigation conducted by the Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report portal which revealed the diversion of the 2.6 billion ringgit ($627 million) to his private accounts.
Najib denied the allegations, saying the money was a donation from a Saudi prince, and he was cleared by Malaysian authorities while in power.
The US Department of Justice estimated that about $4.5 billion were diverted from 1MDB, of which about $1 billion could have been laundered in the US through the purchase of real estate, yachts, jewellery and works of art, among other goods.