Malaysia PM Najib rapped for bringing 1MDB-linked stepson on China trip
The US Justice Department accused Riza Aziz of using siphoned millions from state fund 1MDB to buy luxury real estate and fund his film production company
Malaysia’s opposition and Twitterati have lashed Prime Minister Najib Razak after images showed he was accompanied on an official trip to China by his stepson, who US authorities have implicated in a massive embezzlement scam.
In images on Twitter, Riza Aziz is seen emerging along with Najib from his delegation’s official plane after it arrived in Beijing on Monday.
The US Justice Department said in lawsuits filed in July that more than $200 million was funnelled to Riza from a state investment fund that Najib founded called 1MDB.
— Muhammad HafizRayyan (@HafizRayyan) November 1, 2016
1MDB is now the subject of investigations in several countries across the globe amid allegations that Najib, his relatives, and associates plundered billions from it.
The Justice Department, which seeks to recover more than $1 billion in property and assets it says were purchased using stolen 1MDB money, said Riza used the siphoned millions to buy luxury real estate and fund his film production company, Red Granite Pictures.
The diverted funds were used specifically to bankroll the Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street , directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, who has also cooperated with investigators.
“Not only do we have to bear (the cost) of the expensive jet, but now he (Najib) is bringing his stepson, whom the whole world is looking for in relation to 1MDB monies,” opposition lawmaker Rafizi Ramli was quoted as saying in parliament.
“Riza shouldn’t be given special treatment using the people’s funds. He should be arrested and questioned.”
Malaysian media quoted a spokesman for Rosmah Mansor, Najib’s wife and Riza’s mother, as defending his presence, saying China had invited Najib’s whole family.
Pictures posted to Najib’s Twitter account that showed the family arriving in Beijing, were later deleted.
But Twitter users pounced.
“FBI, hurry! Go capture him!” said one posting in the Malay language.
Another read: “Scandalous and outrageous. Aren’t the Najibs ashamed of themselves?”
The Justice Department filings repeatedly mentioned a “Malaysian Official 1” as taking part in the 1MDB looting. Malaysia has since admitted that official was Najib, while stressing that he was not a target in the US legal action.
Najib and 1MDB deny wrongdoing.
No arrest warrants are known to have been issued by US authorities in the case.