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Malaysian authorities have charged former leader Najib Razak with corruption and criminal breach of trust in connection with a multibillion-dollar scandal surrounding state fund 1MDB.

But as the newspaper notes, "a surprising election defeat in May stripped Mr. Najib of his ability to block investigations in Malaysia into what global prosecutors allege is one of the largest financial frauds of all time".

He was arrested on Tuesday by anti-graft officials over a suspicious transfer of 42 million ringgit ($10.4 million) into his bank accounts from SRC International, a former unit of the 1MDB state investment fund that USA investigators say was looted of billions by associates of Najib.

The scandal is now the subject of money laundering investigations in six counties including the USA.

Last month big four accountant KPMG told 1MDB that its audits for three years do not provide an accurate picture and should not be relied upon.

The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) is believed to have received funds from 1MDB, which is the subject of money laundering probes in at least six countries.

Najib, 64, was charged with receiving a RM42 million (S$14.1 million) bribe as inducement to provide a sovereign guarantee on behalf of the Malaysian Government for a loan of RM4 billion from the pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) to SRC International Sdn Bhd. The 1MDB scandal galvanised an opposition led by his former mentor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who at the age of 92 rallied a disparate coalition to oust Najib from office.

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He said both of his sisters, Stefanie and Brooke , were on the boat with their mother and stepfather Stacey and Paul Bender . Sheila Jones and John Inman were named as other passengers on the boat, but they did not suffer serious injuries.

The anti-graft agency has questioned Najib and his wife. "All transactions were between local companies and banks", said a source.

Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert at John Cabot University in Rome, said Najib's arrest was the "inevitable outcome" after he lost power.

SRC was created in 2011 by Najib's government to pursue overseas investments in energy resources, and was a unit of 1MDB until it was moved to the finance ministry in 2012.

The 1MDB government task force this week said 408 bank accounts involving funds of almost 1.1 billion ringgit had been frozen.

The official, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said Najib was picked up from his house Tuesday and is being brought to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's headquarters, and that the agency will issue a statement soon.

Police say they recovered $273m in luxury goods and cash from a raid in June, calling the seizure of valuables the biggest in Malaysian history.