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Malaysia ex-PM Najib quizzed by graft agency

© AFP | Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak had to navigate a media scrum when he arrived at the anti-graft agency for questioning over a massive financial scandal

PUTRAJAYA (MALAYSIA) (AFP) - 

Scandal-tainted former Malaysian leader Najib Razak arrived Tuesday at the anti-corruption agency for questioning over a massive financial scandal that helped to bring down his long-ruling regime.

Najib's coalition suffered a shock defeat at the May 9 poll, beaten by a reformist alliance led by Mahathir Mohamad, which broke their six-decade stranglehold on power.

Mahathir, who first served as premier from 1981-2003 and came out of retirement aged 92 to take on Najib, and his allies focused on claims that the former leader and his cronies looted sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Billions of dollars were allegedly stolen from the fund in a sophisticated fraud, and used to buy everything from artworks to high-end real estate.

Najib and his reviled, luxury-loving wife Rosmah Mansor have had a swift fall from grace. They have been barred from leaving the country, and police have seized handbags, jewels and cash during raids on properties linked to the couple.

The ousted leader arrived at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in the administrative capital of Putrajaya, walking through a scrum of about 100 journalists.

Najib was summoned by the MACC to give a statement over claims surrounding SRC International, an energy company that was originally a subsidiary of 1MDB, and forms just one part of the wide-ranging probe into the scandal.

SRC was placed under the finance ministry in 2012 -- Najib was finance minister as well as premier at the time.

According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, 42 million ringgit ($10.6 million) originating from SRC was transferred to Najib's personal bank accounts.

Hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB allegedly ended up there.

Najib and 1MDB have denied any wrongdoing. A domestic investigation launched during his premiership concluded that the money in his accounts was a donation from the Saudi royal family.

Abdul Razak Idris, a former senior officer with the anti-graft agency who last week lodged reports against Najib, praised the body for quickly hauling in Najib.

"If we delay, a lot of evidence can be lost or tampered with," he told AFP.

As reports proliferated in recent years that billions were looted from 1MDB, Najib's government shut down domestic inquiries into the scandal, arrested critics calling for a full investigations and muzzled news organisations reporting on the affair.

Mahathir has vowed to fully investigate the financial scandal. On Monday the new government set up a task force headed by high-ranking current and senior officials to probe the controversy.

© 2018 AFP