Lim Guan Eng was a minister for nearly two years until the reformist government he was in collapsed in February, as a new pact led by former allies and political rivals took over.
A former chief minister of the northern state of Penang from 2008 to 2018, Lim was charged with abusing his position to get 372,009 ringgit ($88,573) in gratification for his wife Betty Chew over a workers’ dormitory project.
Pleading not guilty at a court in the city of Butterworth on Tuesday, he said the accusations against him and Chew were “baseless and politically motivated”.
“…dragging my wife, I think this is an act of political vengeance against me,” he said in a press conference broadcast live on social media.
“I’m very upset. You want to go, go for me. Why do you want to go for my wife?”
Chew, a lawyer, was hit with three money-laundering charges, while a businesswoman was also charged with abetting Lim.
Both women pleaded not guilty.
Tuesday’s was the third such corruption charge that Lim faced in recent days.
He was charged in Kuala Lumpur on Friday for soliciting a bribe over a $1.5 billion construction project, and faced a second graft accusation in Penang on Monday for receiving a bribe over the same project.
Lim, who also leads the Democratic Action Party (DAP), was a main member of the coalition that came to power at the 2018 elections, which unseated graft-riddled regime that governed Malaysia for six decades.
Since then, authorities have launched probes into opposition politicians, journalists and activists, in what critics say is an effort to stifle dissent.
© Agence France-Presse
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