Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s former prime minister Najeeb Razzak stood in the dock in Kuala Lumpur as he was accused over his role in a multibillion-dollar fraud that brought down his government and triggered an international outcry.

Ten years to the day after he was sworn in as head of state, the 65-year-old denied all charges on Wednesday at the first of several trials over his alleged involvement in the looting of sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, a state investment vehicle established to develop the economy of the south-east Asian nation. More than $4.5 billion (Dh16.53 billion) was allegedly stolen from the fund via an international network of corruption.

The trial began at Kuala Lumpur’s high court with the attorney general, Tommy Thomas, saying Najib wielded “near absolute power” between 2009-18 as prime minister and finance minister.

Leading the prosecution, Thomas said that the trial would show that “the accused is not above the law”, and that “his prosecution and this trial should serve as precedents for all future holders of this august office”.

The trial, originally set for February, features seven corruption charges relating to SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB. Najib is accused of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering connected to 42m Malaysian ringgits (GBP7.8m) of SRC funds. He denies the charges.

The figure is a drop in the ocean of money Najeeb is accused of stealing, with larger amounts to be addressed in three further 1MDB-related trials. He is accused of pocketing a total of $681m from the investment fund, which he founded in 2009, saying it would be used to strengthen Malaysia’s economy.

— Guardian News & Media Ltd