British aide to ex-PM Najib charged with money laundering: Report, Latest World News - The New Paper

British aide to ex-PM Najib charged with money laundering: Report

This article is more than 12 months old

KUALA LUMPUR The Malaysian authorities charged Paul Stadlen, a Briton who had worked for disgraced former prime minister Najib Razak as a media adviser, with two counts of money laundering, state news agency Bernama reported on Wednesday.

Najib was ousted in a general election last year amid public anger over a graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Malaysian anti-graft investigators issued a notice in November calling for Stadlen, whose whereabouts are unknown, to assist in its 1MDB probe. Reports said he fled the country shortly after Najib's defeat in the election.

Stadlen was charged in absentia on Wednesday with laundering a total of RM14.3 million (S$4.7 million) that were proceeds from illegal activities and had been deposited in the client account of a law firm prosecutors claimed received money from Najib.

Stadlen was accused of ordering the sum to be transferred from the account to several companies and individuals between June 2014 and August 2015, Bernama said, citing charge sheets.

Mishcon de Reya, a London-based law firm representing Stadlen, said he denied wrongdoing.

"The Malaysian government has a political agenda, and Stadlen is now caught up in the backlash against former prime minister Najib," Mr Kevin Gold, Mishcon de Reya's managing partner, was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini.

Mohamad Hafarizam Harun, the head of the Najib-linked law firm, pleaded not guilty to two counts of money laundering for depositing cheques totalling RM15 million from Najib into his firm's client account, Bernama said yesterday.

At least six countries are investigating 1MDB, a state fund founded by Najib in 2009. Malaysian and US investigators say about US$4.5 billion (S$6.1b) was siphoned from the fund and that about US $1 billion made its way into Najib's personal bank accounts.

Since the election, Najib has been hit with 42 criminal charges. He has pleaded not guilty.