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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 ― Ongoing investigations by foreign countries into alleged money-laundering activities linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) may open the prime minister to arrest abroad if any wrongdoing is proven, according to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Speaking at a meeting with an NGO named Kumpulan Melayu Berani Bersatu on Friday, Dr Mahathir said that there was a “possibility” that such a scenario could happen.
“Those countries ― Switzerland, Britain, America ― if they find Najib doing any money laundering (activities) they can ask Interpol to arrest him if he goes overseas.
“So he (Najib) has to remain here, like how he withdrew the passports of some people and barred them from going overseas,” the said in a video uploaded on the blog “Din Turtle”.
Dr Mahathir added that domestic laws were applicable only if crimes were committed locally.
“But if a crime has some connection with a foreign country, that nation has power (to investigate and prosecute),” he added, citing the case of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir as an example.
Omar is now wanted by International Criminal Court to stand trial on genocide charges in Darfur.
The former prime minister did not, however, specify how the probes abroad were linked directly to Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States is now probing entities connected to 1MDB over alleged money-laundering activities in the country, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported today citing an anonymous source.
But the immediate subject of the FBI investigation is not currently known.
The WSJ pointed out, however, that its previous report alleging that US$700 million (RM2.9 billion) was funnelled into PM Najib’s accounts involved two deposits made via US banks, a Swiss international bank and Wells Fargo in New York.
The US investigation on 1MDB is the latest announce by a foreign country, following reports of probes in Switzerland, the SAR of Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom.
The probes were reportedly prompted by reports lodged by former Umno leader and 1MDB critic Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who was arrested on Friday and remanded for another six days yesterday.
The WSJ has published a series of reports detailing dubious activity allegedly involving 1MDB, beginning with an exposé in July on the US$700 million deposit in Najib’s accounts.
Najib has denied any impropriety over the US$700 million donation, which was described as a political donation to the Umno party that he heads.