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Malaysia picks ex-1MDB investigator as central bank chief

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Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus left Bank Negara Malaysia without fanfare in 2016, after her term as deputy governor ended.

Kuala Lumpur

A MALAYSIAN official who probed the 1MDB mega-scandal which helped topple the corruption-plagued former regime has been named the new central bank governor, the government said Friday.

Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus is returning to Bank Negara Malaysia to take the top job, almost two years after leaving her post as deputy governor, a spokesman for the prime minister told AFP.

Muhammad Ibrahim quit as bank chief this month after claims emerged that the institution helped Najib Razak's regime by purchasing government land to cover debts racked up by sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. The bank has insisted there was nothing untoward in the deal.

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Mr Najib, his family and cronies have been accused of stealing billions from 1MDB in a fraud that spanned the globe; the claims were a major reason for his coalition's shock loss at last month's election.

New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has re-opened probes into the scandal and purged top officials linked to Mr Najib. Mr Najib and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Ms Nor Shamsiah aided a probe into 1MDB during her previous stint at the bank. She left in 2016 at the end of her term, but without the fanfare typically accorded to such a senior official, raising questions about whether she got on the Najib government's wrong side. He shut down domestic investigations into 1MDB while in power, and ejected critics from his administration.

Analysts said her short-term aim would be to restore stability and confidence to the markets, which have fallen lately, given investor jitters about the country's new political direction.

But Irvin Seah, an economist at DBS Group in Singapore said: "Shamsiah's not new to the industry, so in terms of monetary policy, we're in good hands." AFP