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Kuala Lumpur rally calls for arrest of 1MDB's 'Malaysian Official 1'

As many as 1,000 protesters marched in Malaysia's capital on Saturday to protest the scandal surrounding 1MDB, the country's troubled sovereign wealth fund.

The protesters called for the arrest of "Malaysian Official 1," an unnamed official who appeared repeatedly in a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit in July in relation to a series of alleged thefts from the fund, which was set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to invest in strategically important assets.

The civil lawsuit alleged that more than $3.5 billion was looted from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and laundered through various shell companies by officials and others connected with the wealth fund.

A number of news outlets have reported that Najib himself is "Malaysian Official 1," something he has strongly denied. The unnamed high-ranking official allegedly received a large chunk of the misappropriated 1MDB funds, according to the DOJ's lawsuit. The DOJ said it intended to seize more than $1 billion worth of assets that it said were purchased with the stolen funds.

Protesters carry signs calling for the tangkap, meaning arrest or capture, of Malaysian Official 1, during a rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Chris Jung | NurPhoto | Getty Images
Protesters carry signs calling for the tangkap, meaning arrest or capture, of Malaysian Official 1, during a rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Singapore and Switzerland are among the other jurisdictions carrying out investigations into 1MDB-related transactions.

Reuters put the number of protesters at just under 1,000, and reported that police set up barriers around Kuala Lumpur's Independence Square on Saturday to prevent the crowd from entering.

"We need to fight for our rights. The country is broken, it's gone to the dogs," Tony Wong, a 77-year-old protester, told Reuters. "All Malaysians should stand and fight for our rights and freedom, for our future generations."

The Star reported that the protest began at 2 p.m. and dispersed peacefully around 4.40 p.m. local time.

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