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Wife of ex-Malaysian leader charged with money laundering

Rosmah Mansor became widely reviled in Malaysia as her reputation for luxury goods grew © AFP / MANAN VATSYAYANA

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Oct 4 – Rosmah Mansor, the luxury-loving wife of Malaysia’s former prime minister, was Thursday charged with money laundering linked to a multi-billion-dollar scandal that helped bring down his government.

The 66-year-old pleaded not guilty to 17 charges of money laundering at a court complex where her husband Najib Razak was also making a separate appearance in connection with the alleged plunder of state funds.

Prosecutors sought a 10 million ringgit ($2.4 million) bail and impounded her passport, asking the court to bar her from contacting any witnesses.

Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram told the court that Rosmah “had approached a witness with a request to give a statement in her favour”.

Rosmah, wearing an orange dress and scarf, arrived under heavy security at the court complex.

The couple has been linked to the alleged theft and laundering of funds from state investment firm 1MDB, which Najib founded when he was in power.

The coalition that he led was ousted in May after six decades in power amid public indignation over the scandal.

Prosecutor Gopal told court Rosmah’s alleged offences were “very serious” as he justified the high bail amount sought.

Defence lawyers sought a lower bail amount of 250,000 ringgit.

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