Former Malaysia PM Najib Razak banned from leaving country

Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor. File photoImage copyright

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Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor had planned to go on an overseas holiday

Ex-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been banned from leaving the country, immigration officials say.

It comes after Mr Najib said that he and his wife were planning to go on an overseas holiday on Saturday.

Earlier this week, Mr Najib’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered a shock electoral defeat.

Mr Najib has been accused of diverting $700m (£517m) from a state investment fund in 2015, but has since been cleared by the authorities.

However Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who at 92 became the world’s oldest elected leader when he was sworn in on Thursday, has said that Mr Najib could face a fresh investigation if sufficient evidence supports it.

Mr Mahathir has said that investigations will take place into alleged corruption in the country, including the case involving the state investment fund.

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Mahathir Mohamad said he believed Malaysia “can get most of the 1MDB money back”

Mr Mahathir stood down as prime minister 15 years ago, but came out of retirement and defected to the opposition to take on and beat former protégé Najib Razak.

He appears to be making good on a promise, made during his election, to release imprisoned former political leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Mr Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izzah, on Saturday confirmed reports that her father will “receive a full royal pardon” and is due to be released on Tuesday.

Mr Anwar was once Mr Mahathir’s deputy, but was jailed on widely-criticised charges of sodomy and corruption amid bitter tensions between the two men.

How has Mr Najib reacted to his travel ban?

In a tweet (in Malay), he said he had been informed by the immigration authorities that he and his family would not be allowed to travel abroad.

He gave no reasons for the authorities’ decision, but said he would abide by it.

He has also announced he is quitting as chairman of the Barisan Nasional coalition and as president of his United Malay National Organisation party.

Mr Najib, 64, had said earlier that he and his wife Rosmah Mansor would go on a holiday on Saturday.

It is believed they intended to fly to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

What about the corruption scandal?

Mr Najib had faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement over the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The scandal has gripped the country for years.

1MDB, set up by Mr Najib in 2009, was meant to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments.

But it started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the $11bn it owed to banks and bondholders.

Then the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported it had seen a paper trail that allegedly traced close to $700m from the fund to Mr Najib’s personal bank accounts.

Mr Najib has consistently denied taking money from 1MDB or any public funds.

After being sworn in as new prime minister, Mr Mahathir said he would seek the return of millions of dollars lost in the scandal.

Former Malaysia PM Najib Razak banned from leaving country