The president of the main opposition party in Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, was charged today with 45 charges for the diversion and misappropriation of some 114 million ringit (27.4 million dollars) in a foundation he heads.
The charges include 10 accusations of breach of trust, 8 allegations of corruption and 27 allegations of money laundering for illicit money transfers, according to the Bernama news agency.
The accusations include the appropriation of 800,000 ringits (192,424 dollars) from the Yayasan Akal Budi foundation used to pay credit cards of the politician, who attributed it to an error of the accountants.
Ahmad Zahid, president of the Malaysian National Organization for Unity (UMNO), a party that ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957 until his electoral defeat last May, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The 65-year-old former deputy prime minister also appeared to be surrounded by several supporters in the Kuala Lumpur court, after spending the night in the Anti-Corruption Commission, where he testified yesterday.
During the reading of the charges, Ahmad Zahid was accompanied by the former prime minister, Najib Razak, who faces 32 accusations of abuse of power and money laundering in another corruption scandal linked to the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB ).
The case of 1MDB, for which Najib's wife is also charged with 17 counts, contributed to precipitate the fall of the UMNO government in last May's elections.
The new government, led by Najib's former prime minister and mentor, 93-year-old veteran Mahathir Mohamad, reopened the investigation into 1MDB after taking office again.
The US Department of Justice estimates that some 4,500 million dollars (3,909 million euros) were diverted from 1MDB, of which about 1,000 million would have been laundered in the US with the purchase of properties, yachts, jewelery and works of art, among other things.