Malaysia opposition leader arrested for corruption, slapped with 45 charges

At 8am this morning, opposition leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi arrived at Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, having been arrested Thursday on suspicion of corruption. It was a fresh blow to his party which was ousted at elections this year after six decades in power.

Hamidi, a former deputy premier and ally of scandal-mired ex-leader Najib Razak, was detained yesterday after being questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Rumors had been swirling all week of what could be an impending arrest.

Today, 45 charged were read to him, accusing the former DPM of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering in connection to a charity run by members of his family.

Heading into court, observers on the scene noted that he was wearing a different batik shirt than the one we was pictured being arrested in yesterday. Two hundred supporters, all sporing red shirts, awaited his arrival at the court complex today.

Local media outlet Malay Mail carried a taste of some of the charges that Hamidi is facing. We’ve copied a snippet below:

PUBLIC PROSECUTOR VS. AHMAD ZAHID BIN HAMIDI (NRIC NO.: 5****-**-6055)

First charge: Laundering RM3.8 million

That you, on 27 May 2016, at the Malayan Banking Berhad, Dataran Maybank branch, Aras 1, Tower A, No.1 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, did engage in money laundering, in that you gave the instructions to deposit a sum of RM3,8000,000 into account number 2**********2 as a fixed deposit with the serial number A6****2 via Maybank account number: 5**********6 belonging to Messrs Lewis & Co, Advocates and Solicitors, which are the proceeds of unlawful activity and thereby you have committed an offence under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Act 613), punishable under Section 4(1) of the same Act.

Second charge: Laundering RM3 million

That you, on 14 June 2016 … gave the instructions to deposit a sum of RM3,0000,000 into account number 2**********2 …

Third charge: Laundering RM4.6 million

That you, on 14 June 2016 … gave the instructions to deposit a sum of RM4,6000,000 into account number2**********2

This list goes on, and you can peep a lot more HERE.

Hamidi is head of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the main party in a coalition that had ruled Malaysia from independence in 1957 until their shock defeat in May polls.

The party has been on the ropes since GE14, with many coalition partners abandoning a party that had become synonymous with widespread graft, divisive racial politics and a rotten ruling elite.

Najib has also been arrested and charged over allegations he oversaw the plundering of state fund 1MDB, a scandal that played a major part in the election defeat.

Ahmad Zahid was arrested in “relation to an investigation into abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering”, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said.

“I urge UMNO members to remain calm and follow the rule of law,” Ahmad Zahid told AFP before his arrest.

The UMNO quickly came to the defense of Ahmad Zahid, who was elected as party chief after May’s polls, and said the arrest was politically motivated.

“This action is a strategy to portray Zahid as an untrustworthy and unqualified leader,” said Jalaluddin Alias, a member of the party’s supreme council.

Even Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, who once faced Hamidi in the election for UMNO presidency, offered words of support:

Ahmad Zahid, who also served as interior minister in the last government, stuck by Najib even as other senior figures abandoned him over the 1MDB graft scandal.

US authorities say more than $4.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund, with nearly $700 million diverted into Najib’s personal bank accounts. The ex-leader has denied any wrongdoing.

*Additional reporting via AFP

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