Kuala Lumpur, Oct 18 (IANS) Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was arrested by the country’s anti-corruption body on Thursday on charges of misuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering.
Ahmad, who is also President of the country’s main opposition party the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), has been called in by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) several times for questioning this year.
In a statement, the MACC said that Ahmad was detained shortly after being summoned to its headquarters in Putrajaya and faces charges of misuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering, Efe news reported.
The UMNO President will be presented at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Friday.
He was arrested in relation to the alleged misappropriation of funds worth RM800,000 ($192,424) from Yayasan Akal Budi, a welfare foundation that he chairs. The money were used to pay his credit card bill.
Ahmad denied the corruption charges and said that the payments were made due to an error by the accountants.
His arrest came after former Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged in a corruption scandal involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund.
Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, was arrested on suspicion of money laundering on October 3 during the investigation into the former Prime Minister.
The US Justice Department estimated that about $4.5 billion were diverted from 1MDB, of which about $1 billion could have been laundered in the US through the purchase of real estate, yachts, jewellery and works of art, among other goods.
The UMNO-led coalition was the ruling party from Malaysia’s independence in 1957 and held power till it suffered its first defeat in the May 9 general election.