Lawyers of Najib’s ex-PR chief slam ‘politically motivated’ charge

Paul Stadlen was charged with money laundering in absentia yesterday. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers representing Najib Razak’s former public relations man Paul Stadlen have hit out at the government over the charge against him, calling the case “politically motivated and in breach of natural justice”.

“Paul categorically denies any wrongdoing,” Kevin Gold, the managing partner at British legal firm Mishcon de Reya, said in a statement, adding that any charges would be “strenuously resisted”.

“The Malaysian government has a political agenda, and Paul is now caught up in the backlash against former prime minister Najib Razak.”

Stadlen, who is believed to have been part of Najib’s communications team in the Prime Minister’s Department, was charged with money laundering in absentia yesterday.

According to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the former Apco Worldwide Malaysia managing director left the country before the May 9 polls last year.

MACC has since been trying to track him down, with officials saying he is wanted in connection with the probe into state investment fund 1MDB.

However, Gold said there was no provision in Malaysian law for Stadlen to be charged in absentia.

He also denied that Stadlen had been in hiding, saying his client only found out that the authorities were looking for him after a media notice issued on Nov 1 last year.

“Following that, our firm immediately contacted the Malaysian authorities. Until now, we have had no response,” he added.

Whistleblower site Sarawak Report previously claimed Stadlen was offered US$420,000 for a six-month stint to advise the Najib administration.

His former company Apco came under intense scrutiny when it was revealed that the PR firm was paid a huge amount to promote campaigns by the government, including Najib’s 1Malaysia initiative.

It was eventually dismissed from its role.