Former Malaysian leader Muhyiddin Yassin will be charged in court for corruption and money-laundering offences following allegations of abuse in stimulus programmes during the Covid-19 pandemic when he was prime minister. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement that the former prime minister faces “several charges” for abuse of power to solicit bribes and complicity in money laundering. The agency said the attorney-general’s chambers approved its request for the 75-year-old to be charged at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Friday. If found guilty for abuse of power, he faces up to 20 years in jail and a fine of five times the value of the bribe, while charges for money laundering carry a penalty of up to 5 million ringgit (US$1.1 million) in fines, no more than five years in jail or both. Speaking to the media after emerging from the MACC headquarters in the evening, Muhyiddin said he had been told that he will face seven separate charges linked to a multibillion dollar government spending packaging during the Covid-19 pandemic and the approval of tax breaks for charitable contributions by billionaire businessman Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary. Malaysia’s corruption rating stagnates with many accused leaders still in power “I had no power as prime minister to grant approval. That power lay with the finance ministry. In no way did I influence the finance ministry in making its decisions,” Muhyiddin said. “But whatever explanation I gave, at the end I will still be charged,” he said, adding that this was an “ill-intentioned ploy” by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his administration to discredit him. Muhyiddin, who led the country between 2020 and 2021, was summoned to appear in front of the MACC earlier on Thursday after Anwar ordered a review of state spending under Muhyiddin’s watch. Muhyiddin was edged out after a general election in November by a coalition led by Anwar, opening the floodgates to graft allegations centring on him and his Bersatu party, which they roundly refute as politically motivated. Speaking to reporters outside the MACC headquarters where scores of Muhyiddin’s supporters had gathered before the ex-leader was detained, Bersatu secretary general Hamzah Zainuddin described the case as “political persecution”. Anwar on Thursday dismissed the opposition’s claims, arguing that it would be impossible for the country’s graft busters to proceed with their work if every investigation they carry out is deemed to be politically motivated. “To say every case is politically motivated, does it mean (the MACC) can’t make arrests? That all big corruption cases should be let go?” the prime minister was quoted as saying by local news portal Malaysiakini. Anti-corruption officials have so far charged two leaders from Muhyiddin’s Bersatu party in connection with a government stimulus programme launched in the midst of the pandemic. The two leaders – Tasek Gelugor MP Wan Saiful Wan Jan and a party branch deputy head – were charged for allegedly soliciting bribes to help prospective contractors land multimillion ringgit infrastructure projects under the Jana Wibawa programme. Malaysia’s Anwar names corruption-haunted Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as deputy PM On Friday, Bersatu treasurer Mohd Salleh Bajuri was released on bail after being detained for nearly a week by the MACC as part of their investigations into alleged transfers of public funds into the party’s accounts. The MACC in January froze the party’s accounts, a month after Anwar said the finance ministry had found a breach in procedure in the handling of billions of ringgit in public funds. Anti-graft officials had said in December that they were investigating the Muhyiddin administration’s handling of 92.5 billion ringgit in public funds allocated under a series of Covid-19 stimulus packages launched during his 18-month tenure. Anwar, who marked 100 days in office over the weekend, has promised clean government in a reset from years of corruption-tainted administrations, the most notorious of which was led by disgraced former premier Najib Razak . Can Anwar clean up Malaysia’s murky defence deals and ‘rebuild credibility’? Najib is currently in jail on abuse of power and money laundering convictions linked to a former unit of the 1MDB state-owned fund , which prosecutors say was drained of billions of dollars under Najib’s watch. Anwar and Muhyiddin fought a close-run election in November last year with neither emerging with a clear majority. Malaysia’s constitutional monarch, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, then appointed Anwar as prime minister after he formed a coalition with other political parties.