The British public relations representative for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former prime minister, has been charged in absentia in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, according to a report from Financial Times.
Paul Stadlen is accused of laundering about $3.5 million of illicit funds and putting the money into an account associated with the PM that was run by one of his lawyers.
Malaysian prosecutors say Stadlen was the one who ordered the transfer of the money to various people and organizations between June of 2014 and August of the following year.
On Thursday (Feb. 21), prosecutors also filed laundering charges against the lawyer who headed the firm that held the account, a man named Hafarizam Harun. He is accused of depositing three checks in Razak’s name into a client account. Harun pleaded not guilty and was released on bail after a night in Malaysia’s anti-corruption commission headquarters.
“I will take this opportunity to clear my name in due course,” he said, adding that he was going to continue his work as Razak’s lawyer.
The investigation against the former prime minister started when Mahathir Mohamad bested him in an election last year, riding a wave of anti-corruption sentiment in the country. Razak, for his part, founded 1MDB and is facing 42 charges including laundering, abuse of power and breach of trust. He is scheduled to face four trials this year, and has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him.
The U.S. Department of Justice has said that Razak siphoned $4.5 billion out of the fund.
Stadlen’s lawyer, Mishcon de Reya, said Stadlen “categorically denies any wrongdoing” and that the charges are going to be “strenuously resisted as the case against him is politically motivated and in breach of natural justice.”
The warrant for Stadlen’s arrest has been sent to Interpol, according to Malaysia’s Deputy Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib.