Malaysian police search ousted PM's house

Rozanna Latiff and Tom Westbrook
Around 16 police vehicles and a truck were seen entering Najib Razak's residence in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian police have searched ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak's home and other places linked to him in connection with a probe into scandal-plagued state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a senior police officer says.

Armed police entered Najib's family home on Wednesday night, a drama thousands watched unfold as it was streamed live.

It was an extraordinary scenario that few could have predicted before the country's May 9 general election that Najib was expected to win.

Amar Singh, the director of police commercial crime investigations, told Reuters that searches were continuing at that house, at the prime minister's office and a residence he had used, as well as two apartments owned by his family.

"We are in the midst of collecting information, we will have more details once we have completed our search," he said, confirming that the searches were related to investigations into the 1MDB scandal that had dogged Najib since 2015.

The multi-billion-dollar scandal over the fund founded by Najib is being investigated by police in at least six countries, including the United States. Najib has denied any wrongdoing.

A lawyer for Najib, Harpal Singh Grewal, said early on Thursday police seized only a few personal items from his family home. "They found nothing incriminating," he said, adding that a couple of handbags were among items police took away.

When asked whether Najib would be arrested, he said: "There is no indication that they (the police) will do it."

Days after Malaysia's long-ruling political coalition was defeated in the election, new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad barred Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, from leaving the country.

Najib was once a protege of Mahathir, 92, who now says there is sufficient evidence to investigate the scandal at 1MDB.

Asked about the searches at a news conference, Mahathir said it was a police matter, and he had little information. But he added: "I suppose the police have enough reasons to raid."

Mahathir has replaced the country's attorney-general and officials at the anti-graft agency, in what appears to be a purge of people seen as close to the former premier.

US authorities allege that over $US4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB in a fraud orchestrated by a financier known to be close to Najib and his family. Attorney-General Jeff Sessions has called the 1MDB scandal "kleptocracy at its worst".

Filings by the U.S. Justice Department in a civil lawsuit indicated nearly $US30 million of the money stolen was used to buy jewellery for the prime minister's wife, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace.