KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak has received a bankruptcy notice for failing to pay more than $ 400 million in unpaid taxes, a move the ex-prime minister described as an attempt to destroy his political career.
Najib, who lost a historic election in 2018, faces dozens of corruption and money laundering allegations over the alleged theft of billions of dollars from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad state fund he co-founded.
He has denied wrongdoing and appealed Monday to overturn his conviction and 12-year prison sentence on a case related to 1MDB.
Last year, a Malaysian court ordered Najib to pay 1.69 billion ringgit ($ 409.80 million) in unpaid taxes incurred between 2011 and 2017 while he was still in office, including fines and interest.
Najib said in a Facebook post late Tuesday that officials on the Inland Revenue Board issued him a bankruptcy notice on Monday shortly after his appeal hearing on the unpaid tax bill.
Najib said he believes the timing of the announcement is related to the decision last month by his political party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), to end cooperation with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government on the upcoming elections.
Najib said that in the event of bankruptcy, he would lose his seat as a member of parliament and would not be able to run as a candidate for the elections.
“I will not bow to anyone who is abusing the laws of this country to suppress me on the basis of politics and lust for power,” he said, adding that he had asked his lawyers to obtain a suspension of the notice.
Muhyiddin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the tax office declined to comment.
UMNO unexpectedly returned to power last year as part of a coalition nominating Muhyiddin as prime minister after the previous coalition government under veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad broke up.
Despite the charges against him and even though he no longer leads UMNO, Najib is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and an active social media presence, particularly on Facebook, where he has over 4 million followers, more than any other Malaysian politician.
($ 1 = 4.1240 ringgit)
Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore