Malaysian democracy group to stage 1MDB protest, calling for PM to resign

September 14, 2016 1:06 AM EDT

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak attends the ASEAN-US Summit in Vientiane, Laos September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva


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(This version of the Sept. 14 story has been corrected to clarify findings from the U.S lawsuits in paragraph 7)

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian democracy group Bersih said on Wednesday it would hold a protest rally calling for the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak to allow an independent investigation into the financial scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Bersih chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said the rally would be held on Nov. 19.

"Bersih believes not protesting is not an option. Malaysians must stand united and take a strong stand against this grand corruption and the failure of our institutions," Maria told reporters.

More than 200,000 people marched through the streets in August 2015 in a similar rally organized by Bersih, which draws the bulk of its support from Malaysia's ethnic Chinese minority, calling for Najib's resignation.

1MDB is a state fund Najib founded in September 2009 to invest in strategic property and energy projects. Najib was the chairman of 1MDB's advisory board until recently.

U.S. prosecutors filed civil lawsuits in July alleging that over $3.5 billion was defrauded from 1MDB.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that global investigators believed more than $1 billion entered Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts, much of it from 1MDB. The U.S. filings referred to an unnamed high-ranking official who received some of the misappropriated funds.

A source familiar with the investigations has told Reuters that the unnamed official is Najib.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Nick Macfie)



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