Former Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was charged Friday with abuse of power and money laundering over projects launched during his premiership, charges he said were politically motivated.

The charges come just three months after Muhyiddin lost a hard-fought and divisive parliamentary election to Anwar Ibrahim, and are likely to heighten political tensions in Malaysia.

Muhyuddin, who led the country for 17 months between 2020 and 2021, becomes the second Malaysian leader to face criminal charges after losing power.

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In a Kuala Lumpur court, the former prime minister was charged with four counts of abuse of power involving 232.5 million ringgit ($51.40 million) and two counts of money laundering involving 195 million ringgit ($43.1 million).

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Muhyiddin pleaded not guilty to all six charges and has previously said the charges were “political persecution” of the opposition.

The former prime minister faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of money laundering charges and up to 20 years for abuse of power.

He will also be sentenced to a severe financial penalty.

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Muhyiddin was granted bail by the judge and asked to surrender his passport.

Prime Minister Anwar said he has not interfered in graft investigations involving Muhyiddin and left it to law enforcement.

Immediately after the November election win, Anwar said he would launch a review of government projects worth billions of dollars approved by Muhyiddin, including COVID-19 aid programs, alleging they did not follow proper procedures.

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(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Ed Davies)