Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife have been banned from leaving the country, immigration officials say.
Malaysian’s immigration chief said Saturday that former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor have been barred from leaving the country on the heels of a historic election loss.
Immigration Director General Mustafar Ali confirmed Mr. Najib and Ms. Rosmah had been issued a travel ban after Malaysia’s new leadership earlier said the couple would be prevented from leaving the country when a flight manifest surfaced showing them booked to fly to Indonesia on a private jet on Saturday morning.
Newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said he would reopen an investigation relating to allegations that Mr. Najib siphoned money from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, the Malaysian state investment fund at the center of probes in multiple countries.
U.S. authorities allege that at least $4.5 billion was misappropriated between 2009 and 2015, including $681 million allegedly received by Mr. Najib, whom lawsuits in the U.S. referred to as “Malaysian Official 1.” Mr. Najib and 1MDB have denied wrongdoing, and Malaysian investigations carried out during Mr. Najib’s premiership have cleared him.
Precautions have been taken to prevent Mr. Najib and his wife from leaving the country, according to people close to Dr. Mahathir. These people said they had confirmed the details on the flight manifest, which shows the couple scheduled to fly from a small Kuala Lumpur airport to Jakarta.
In a post on his confirmed Twitter account, Mr. Najib said, “After over four decades in politics and the recent election campaign, which was regrettably personal and perhaps the most intense in Malaysian history, I will take a short break to spend time with my family whom I have not seen enough of in recent years.”
He didn’t say if he was planning to spend time overseas. He also said he was committed to a smooth transfer of power and he hoped the country would unite “after this divisive period.”
Mr. Najib was seen Friday night at a dinner for his party, the United Malays National Organization, which led Malaysia’s ruling coalition for six decades until its defeat this week. Mr. Najib met senior party leaders before leaving the event and before word of the flight manifest became known. He didn’t speak to reporters at the event.
A UMNO official told reporters that Mr. Najib had been planning to take a break and to return afterward to Malaysia. The party has internal elections scheduled for September and Mr. Najib is expected to decide then whether to step down from his position as party leader, the official said.