Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, arrives in court in Kuala Lumpur on October 4 2018. Picture: REUTERS/LAI SENG SIN
Rosmah Mansor, wife of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, arrives in court in Kuala Lumpur on October 4 2018. Picture: REUTERS/LAI SENG SIN

Kuala Lumpur — Malaysian prosecutors charged the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak with money laundering and tax evasion, the latest chapter in the stunning downfall of the former leader and his family after he lost power in May.

Rosmah Mansor pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of handling funds from unlawful activities involving 7.1-million ringgit ($1.7m), according to court proceedings on Thursday.

Najib arrived at a separate court on Thursday morning for his case management of money-laundering, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust charges related to 1MDB, the state fund that lies at the center of several globe-spanning probes from Switzerland to Singapore.

Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram declined to comment on whether Rosmah’s case is linked to 1MDB, also known as 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

The allegations are a first for Rosmah as Malaysian investigators widen their scope beyond the former premier.

Previous charges have centred on Najib, who has said “politically motivated” moves are behind attempts to convict him.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who returned to power in May with pledges to get to the bottom of the 1MDB scandal, has said he is not seeking revenge and has focused his efforts on recouping money lost through the state fund. He is targeting to regain $4.5bn.

Rosmah is accused of receiving a total of 7.1-million ringgit from unlawful activities in her Affin Bank account, and allegedly failed to declare the same amount as income for tax purposes. The charges each carry a punishment of imprisonment, and fines that could amount to the millions.

The judge presiding over her case set her bail at 2-million ringgit. The prosecutor had sought 10-million ringgit. Her case management date is set for November 8.

Bloomberg