Malaysia arrests opposition leader Zahid | News | DW | 18.10.2018
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Malaysia arrests opposition leader Zahid

Malaysia's anti-graft agency says it has arrested former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a probe centered on a family-run charity. Last May, former premier Najib Razak was ousted amid a financial scandal.

Zahid Hamidi being detained alongside men in black(picture-alliance/AP/Y. G-Jun)

UMNO leader and ex-deputy premier Zahid Hamidi (center)

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said Zahid was arrested Thursday after being summoned to its offices in Kuala Lumpur.

Zahid would appear in court on Friday to face charges, said the MACC, as part of its probe into alleged abuse of power and money-laundering.

Read moreMalaysia's PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim cements return to politics

Local media reported that the case involved foundation credit cards used to settle payments in 2014 and 2015.

Zahid, who became United Malays National Organization (UMNO) leader after an election defeat in May, denied wrongdoing and earlier on Thursday urged UMNO members to "remain calm and follow the rule of law."

His arrest is a fresh blow to UMNO, the lynchpin of coalitions that had ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957 amid divisive racial politics.

Anger over missing billions

Zahid was deputy prime minister under ex-premier Najib Razak, who lost last May's general election to veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad amid public anger over the so-called 1MDB scandal.

Zahid had also been questioned over the 1MDB scandal – now involving investigators in at least six countries.

US authorities say more than €3.9 billion ($4.5 billion) was misappropriated from the 1MDB state fund, with more than €500 million diverted into Najib's personal bank accounts.

Najib was formally charged in July. He denied any wrongdoing. His wife, Rosmah Mansor, was arrested earlier this month on multiple charges. She too has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities have frozen hundreds of bank accounts as agents continue their investigation into how money went missing from state coffers.

ipj/msh (dpa, AP, Reuters)

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