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Rosmah arrested, to face charges on Thursday

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Mdm Rosmah arriving at Malaysia's anti-graft agency. She spent Wednesday night in detention and will be charged today.

Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIAN anti-graft authorities on Wednesday arrested former first lady Rosmah Mansor, who will spend a night in detention before being taken to court to face money-laundering charges.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said that it arrested Mdm Rosmah, 66, who will face charges in court on Thursday for infringing an anti-money laundering law.

"Rosmah will face several charges," the agency said in a statement.

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Her arrest follows three rounds of questioning by anti-graft agents over state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), from which US authorities said more than US$4.5 billion was misappropriated. Last Wednesday, she was questioned for nearly 13 hours.

After former prime minister Najib Razak's election defeat in May, the couple have seen their world turned upside down, with authorities banning them from leaving the country and the police searching their homes.

Malaysians have been outraged by the seizure of around US$275 million worth of cash and goods, including a vast collection of Hermes Birkin and other designer handbags, jewellery and watches from properties linked to the couple.

Najib has said that most of the seized items were gifts to his wife and daughter, and had nothing to do with 1MDB. The anti-graft agency did not say if the charges against Mdm Rosmah relate to 1MDB.

After the arrest, her lawyer, Geethan Ram Vincent, told reporters that her lawyers had not been informed of the nature of the charges to be filed against her.

Mdm Rosmah smiled and shook hands with officers of the anti-graft agency as she arrived at its headquarters, wearing a headscarf, and traditional Malay garb of floor-length skirt and a blouse in lime green. She made no comment to reporters.

Najib faces 32 charges ranging from money laundering to abuse of power and criminal breach of trust in the effort to uncover how billions of dollars went missing from 1MDB. He has consistently denied wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Najib, 64, himself faced questioning on Wednesday by the anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing division of Malaysia's police over a money laundering inquiry, media said. He is also set to be in court on Thursday for a pre-trial hearing of charges related to 1MDB filed against him.

Corruption accusations have dogged Najib for years, and came to a head in 2015, when The Wall Street Journal reported that nearly US$700 million in 1MDB funds was diverted to his personal bank account. He lost the May election to his one-time mentor Mahathir Mohamad, who swiftly reopened a probe into 1MDB. REUTERS