Malaysia steps up graft probe of fund linked to ex-leader

Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar Ibrahim center gestures to his supporters during a rally in Petaling Jaya Malaysia Wednesday

Speaking to reporters outside Mr Najib's Taman Duta residence at around 4am yesterday, the former premier's lawyer, Mr Harpal Singh Grewal, confirmed the police search and that Mr Najib and his family were cooperative.

"Exactly how much jewellery, I would not be able to say, because we know that we confiscated bags containing jewellery and the amount of jewellery is rather big", Reuters quoted him as saying.

Mahathir was ideal as prime minister right now as the new government goes about dismantling the obsolete and corrupt system put in place by the long-ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO)-led coalition, Anwar said. The Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, chaired its advisory board and, according to the US Justice Department, top executives and associates of Najib looted $4.5bn from the fund between 2009 and 2014, laundering it through the US, Singapore, Switzerland and other countries.

In a statement, Najib's lawyer Harpal Singh Grewal said police harassment continued for nearly 18 hours though Najib indicated his will to cooperate fully.

Commercial crime director Amar Singh Ishar Singh said police also searched several other locations, including the prime minister's office and official residence, which haven't yet been occupied by Mahathir.

She reported that investigators are also trying to unlock a safety deposit box, which Najib reportedly said could not be opened because the key has been missing.

A police spokeswoman could not be contacted for comment.

Mahathir has said the government will seek to retrieve billions of dollars laundered from 1MDB to repay government debts that have piled up over the years.

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Some of the money allegedly landed in Najib's bank account and $23million was used to buy a pink diamond necklace for his wife, it is claimed. "Najib wasted a lot of Malaysia's money".

Mahathir, who was prime minister for 22 years until in 2003, emerged from retirement to join hands with former political foes to oust Najib amid anger over the 1MDB scandal.

Najib was cleared of all wrongdoing while he was in power, but the investigation is widely perceived to have been a farce, and some in his administration have since accused him of covering up the scandal.

While Malaysians have obviously given Mahathir a bigger mandate, we think a larger lesson for all, including Nigeria, is that leaders can not take the interests of their people for granted without suffering the consequences - however influential they once were.

"We are glad that he has been reunited with his family", spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. "They (the police) also acted professionally", he said.

There were those who still doubted that Anwar, 71, could accept his former boss, who sacked him 20 years ago from the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on Sept 2, 1998, before being sacked by UMNO the next day from the deputy president's post and party membership over alleged abuse of power and sexual misconduct.

Najib's alliance, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), unexpectedly lost last week's parliamentary elections to his one-time mentor, Mahathir. "I want people to be treated decently", he said.

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