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    Sep 04, 2015

    Najib told to file defence in suit for GE overspending


    THE Malaysian High Court has ordered Prime Minister Najib Razak and three other defendants to file their defence in a suit brought by the opposition accusing them of allowing the ruling party to spend far beyond the legal limits in contesting the last general election, the local media reported.

    Mr Najib must file his defence for the case by Oct 1, news website Malaysian Insider quoted his lawyer as saying.

    The other defendants are Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, secretary-general of the ruling coalition government Barisan Nasional (BN) led by Mr Najib; the state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB); and the Election Commission (EC).

    Opposition party Keadilan has filed the suit last month, following claims by Mr Najib and some of his ministers that the US$700 million (S$990 million) found in the Prime Minister's personal accounts was a political donation from an Arab tycoon for him to spend mainly in the 2013 election campaign.

    Mr Najib said the cash was not from any 1MDB-linked company as alleged by a report by the United States-based Wall Street Journal.

    The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had also said that the cash was merely a donation.

    Keadilan MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said on Aug 12 that the alleged "donation" exposed corruption and corrupt tactics used by BN to win the general election.

    "It is obvious that the RM2.6 billion (S$870 million) used is more than 26 times the allowed amount as outlined by Malaysian laws," Ms Nurul Izzah said at a press conference then.

    She also said the EC had openly ignored what she believes is evidence of corruption.

    Meanwhile, the Swiss authorities said they had frozen tens of millions of dollars in assets as part of an investigation into the debt-ridden 1MDB, reported the Agence France-Presse.

    The Swiss attorney-general's office further confirmed that criminal proceedings had been opened against two executives of the fund over "money laundering and suspected misconduct in public office".

    Allegations have circulated for months in Malaysia that huge sums had vanished in deals involving 1MDB, which Mr Najib launched in 2009.

    However, 1MDB said it had no knowledge of the Swiss action.

    Mr Najib and 1MDB have fiercely denied any wrongdoing.