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The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission questioned former Prime Minister Najib Razak over 1MDB, as a special task force hones in on recovering assets from the troubled state fund. US investigators say Razak's associates stole and laundered $4.5 billion from the fund, some of which also landed in Razak's bank account, and that some $23 million was used to buy a rare diamond pink necklace for Mansor.

Najib, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been barred from leaving the country.

Mahathir Mohamad, the new prime minister, said the task force would meet for the first time Tuesday and investigate crimes committed in relation to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which Najib founded in 2009 as a sovereign wealth fund to support economic development in the country.

Najib, 64, has been summoned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for questioning on Tuesday.

Police have raided properties linked to him, seizing hundreds of designer handbags and luggage stuffed with cash, jewelry and other valuables.

The publicity given to the search prompted Rosmah to issue a statement through her lawyers complaining of the danger of a "premature public trial".

S. Mahfuz  BenarNews
S. Mahfuz BenarNews

"The authorities should not have played a role in the rise of numerous criticism and insults on social media, and instead, abide by the law and act professionally when carrying out their duties", she said.

"We wanted to bring back money that was stolen back to our country".

He said the chorus of allegations was a smear campaign aimed at ruining the United Malays National Organisation, the party that until now has led every government since Malaysia's independence six decades ago.

That includes figuring out if any of its money ended up with Najib, who once chaired its advisory board, and reaching out to global investigators who had probed alleged embezzlement and money laundering activities in recent years. "I was the target because I was the prime minister and party president", Najib told supporters. He said police took personal belongings such as mobile phones, iPads, clothing and baby shoes from two of the three apartments at the condominium that were raided and occupied by two of Razak's children, Singh said.

Describing the governing Pakatan alliance as being inexperienced, Mahathir also announced the formation of a "Council of Eminent Persons" to advise on economic and financial matters during the transition period.

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