KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — Former Apco Malaysia boss Paul Stadlen has claimed foul play following news that he will be charged in absentia with money laundering.
Claiming to represent Stadlen, London-based law firm Mishcon de Reya said the one-time media adviser to Datuk Seri Najib Razak when the latter was prime minister “categorically denies any wrongdoing”.
“The Malaysian government has a political agenda, and Paul is now caught up in the backlash against former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“Any charges will be strenuously resisted as the case against him is politically motivated and in breach of natural justice,” the law firm’s managing partner Kevin Gold said in a media statement today.
He rejected claims that Stadlen has been in hiding, saying the latter first learnt he was being sought as a witness through a media notice last November 1 and that the law firm had “immediately contacted” Malaysian authorities then, but received no response even till today.
Gold also accused the government of foul play by leaking information of the money laundering charges that are expected to be filed in absentia, claiming there is no such provision under Malaysian law.
Yesterday, business daily The Edge quoted sources saying that the charges involve a staggering sum of RM15 million, and that investigators had allegedly tracked the source of money to Najib, who himself is already facing 42 charges involving criminal breach of trust and money laundering, linked to state investment arm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Stadlen had previously aided Najib in the latter’s publicity campaigns and is one of the wanted persons linked to the 1MDB scandal.
The 39-year old was last known to live at the Loft Sentral Condominium, near the KL Sentral transportation hub here, according to the MACC.
The Briton was reported to have fled Malaysia, after Najib lost power on May 9 last year.
Apco Malaysia is said to be the PR company that managed Najib's past publicity campaigns, including international advertorials and news slots meant to boost the former prime minister’s global standing.
Whistleblower website Sarawak Report previously reported that Stadlen headed the communication operations of the Prime Minister's Office during Najib’s tenure.