Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak has been officially charged with corruption in connection with money theft from a state fund.
Razak told court on Wednesday that he was not guilty of the three charges of criminal breach of trust and one count of abuse of power filed against him, however.
The judge proceeded to grant him bail at one million ringgit (250,000 dollars).
Each of the four charges against Razak carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. The abuse of power charge carries a fine of not less than five times the state money used for self-enrichment.
“As a public official, which is prime minister and minister of finance, [you] used your position for self-gratification [for a] total of 42 million ringgit [10 million dollars],” Attorney General Tommy said, referring to the abuse of power charge.
The charges relate to funds that allegedly went from a Malaysian firm — SRC International — into Razak’s personal bank account but are only a fraction of the total amount reportedly misappropriated from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.
The total amount siphoned from the 1MDB fund is estimated to be more than 4.5 billion dollars, according to the US Department of Justice.
Razak was detained on Tuesday, less than two months after an unexpected election defeat to a coalition led by his mentor-turned-foe Mahathir Mohamad.
Mohamad had told media last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that the prosecution was looking to bring against Razak.
Since Razak’s loss at the polls, authorities have revived investigations into the 1MDB fund, which for years had been systematically obstructed.
Razak has been barred from leaving the country and has had millions of dollars of items seized from properties linked to his family.
A spokesman for Razak claimed on Tuesday that the charges against Razak were “politically motivated.”
In a message posted on Twitter after his arrest, Razak himself said “not all the accusations against me and my family are true.”
“Let investigations be carried out. I have not had a chance to defend myself,” he wrote.