Najib's claim to shame
Corruption in high places cannot be kept all that much of a secret for very long. Along with it come arrogance and all symptoms of popularity on the wane. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak discovered that the hard way. He has now been charged with four counts of corruption for embezzling public money from Malaysia's 1MDB fund. He has also been charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one charge of abuse of power, just weeks after voters ousted him from power, in large part due to long-standing corruption allegations. He was arrested at his home in Kuala Lumpur, according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which has been investigating billions of state funds that went missing while Najib was in power. Any corruption related offence carries a general penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a minimum fine of five times the value of any bribe, according to the MACC. Najib could also face lashes with a whip. Najib pleaded not guilty, of course, and is expected to be released on a $250,000 bail. As he was leaving the courthouse, Najib told reporters that he believed that his trial was politically motivated by the new government, but added it was "my best opportunity to clear my name." But, of course. Last week, the police said they had seized $225 million in luxury handbags, jewellery, cash and goods from six properties linked to the former leader. The goods were seized as a part of the investigation into the sprawling scandal related to 1MDB, a state investment vehicle from which Najib and others are accused of siphoning off billions of dollars. His spokesman described the arrest as "politically motivated" and "the result of political vengeance" by the Malaysian leadership under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, elected in May. Najib, whose government was plagued by scandal, was soundly defeated in parliamentary elections in May. Veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad came out of retirement to lead a coalition that challenged and defeated the incredibly unpopular Najib. According to an investigation by the US Justice Department, Malaysian financier Jho Low used misappropriated funds from 1MDB to buy 27 different 18-carat gold necklaces and bracelets for the wife of someone listed in the complaint as "Malaysia Official 1". That official has been widely reported to be Najib. The US is currently seeking to recover around $540 million misappropriated from the 1MDB fund. All these findings and charges are a matter of great shame and scandal for someone who held the reins of his country for such a long time. Even stranger is the fact that Mahathir Mohamad, in his 90s, had to step in to stop the rot.