Kuala Lumpur, A leading lawyer for former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged with money laundering at a court here on Thursday as part of the investigation into state investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, 66, was charged under the anti-money laundering law for receiving money from illegal activities amounting to 9.5 million ringgit ($2.29 million), which were paid by Najib in two transactions in 2013 and 2014 respectively, Xinhua news agency reported.
Abdullah was also charged with filing income tax incorrectly related to the two payments. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The charges were brought by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which has been investigating the 1MDB case.
Abdullah told reporters that the payments were for his legal services to the then ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and its leading party, the United Malays National Organization over the years.
He also insisted that he had no knowledge of that the money could be possibly from illegal activities like the misappropriation of 1MDB funds.
Najib was arrested in July and faces several charges related to the 1MDB scandal, in which he allegedly channelled almost $700 million from the 1MDB state development firm into his personal bank accounts.
His BN coalition had ruled Malaysia for decades until this year’s election which it lost and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Pakatan Harapan coalition won.