Malaysia media group loses bid to lift printing ban

GavelMalaysia’s High Court on Friday dismissed a media group’s bid to lift a three-month publishing ban imposed by the government in response to its investigative reports on alleged financial irregularities linked to the prime minister.

The home ministry late last month suspended the publishing permits of The Edge Media Group, saying it was threatening “public order” with its reports on alleged fraud, mismanagement and misappropriation of funds involving state-owned investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

“We are disappointed and gravely concerned with the court’s decision today in dismissing our application for a stay (of the suspension),” the group said in a statement.

A full judicial review of the publishing ban, which affects The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly, is now set for September 7, it said.

Questions continue to swirl around the whereabouts of hundreds of millions of dollars of money from 1MDB, which Najib launched six years ago and retains close ties with.

The Wall Street Journal last month reported that Malaysian investigators had found nearly $700 million had been deposited into Najib’s personal bank accounts.

The government, and the country’s anti-graft agency, have since called the transfers “donations” from unidentified overseas sources but no details have been provided.

Najib and 1MDB strongly deny any wrongdoing.

Najib, 62, has called the allegations a “political conspiracy” to unseat him, but has not responded to repeated calls for answers on key accusations, such as the exact nature and origin of the $700 million.

Reports by The Edge brought to light some of the central allegations, and its CEO Ho Kay Tat said last month the ban was meant to “shut us up”.

Two weeks ago, Najib sacked his deputy premier after he called for transparency in the case, and his attorney general, who was investigating it.

Police also have carried out raids on the anti-corruption agency, which was pursuing its own probes into 1MDB.

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