As of last week, Najib Razak was prime minister of Malaysia. As of Friday, he was a mere civilian barred from leaving the country as authorities raided his Kuala Lumpur properties. The rapid fall centers around $4.5 billion missing from a state development fund overseen by Najib before his election loss to Mahathir Mohamad last week, reports the Wall Street Journal. Though Najib was cleared of wrongdoing while in office, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has reopened the investigation based on claims he intervened to hide his pocketing of $681 million from fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), some of which he allegedly spent on shopping sprees for his wife. During recent raids at his properties, police say they seized 284 boxes of handbags from Gucci, Chanel, and Hermes; 72 suitcases holding jewelry and Rolex watches; and at least $157,000 in cash.
Najib's lawyer says the investigation represents "unwarranted harassment," per the BBC. But Malaysia is only one of six countries investing the fund. The US—which claims Najib's stepson used 1MDB funds to produce films, including The Wolf of Wall Street—alleges $1.7 billion was laundered through American banks, reports the New York Times. Najib is now to testify in front of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Reuters reports, citing one member as saying evidence shows $10.6 million was sent to Najib from 1MDB's former subsidiary. Per the Journal, the investigation may be widened to include the 2006 murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, who acted as translator during a purchase of submarines while Najib was defense minister. Two members of Najib's security detail were convicted of the murder, though one had his sentence overturned. (Read more Malaysia stories.)