Malaysia Charges Wife of Ex-Premier Over Power Project Bribes

(Bloomberg) -- Malaysian prosecutors have charged the wife of ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak with two counts of corruption involving millions of ringgit, stepping up legal action against those in his inner circle since he lost power in May.

Rosmah Mansor allegedly solicited 187.5 million ringgit ($45 million) in bribes from the managing director of privately-held firm Jepak Holdings Sdn, according to charge sheets read out in court in Kuala Lumpur. The bribes were for her assistance in securing a 1.25 billion ringgit project for the firm to supply power to rural schools in the state of Sarawak.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has vowed to investigate alleged wrongdoing that took place during Najib’s administration after spending years accusing the government of covering up alleged embezzlement at state fund 1MDB and misusing public funds to garner voter support.

The charge sheets stated Rosmah received 1.5 million ringgit on Sept. 7, 2017 from the company director. Najib’s former special officer Rizal Mansor was slapped with four charges of corruption over the same case, allegedly for acting on Rosmah’s behalf as well as soliciting and receiving millions of ringgit for himself.

Rizal and Rosmah pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, each of which carries a prison term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least 10,000 ringgit. Bail was set at 1 million ringgit for each of them.

Rosmah was charged last month with money laundering and tax evasion involving 7.1 million ringgit of funds. Najib himself faces dozens of charges ranging from money-laundering to abuse of power related to 1MDB, which lies at the center of multiple globe-spanning probes from Switzerland to Singapore. Both pleaded not guilty to earlier charges.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.