KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's newly-appointed attorney general said on Friday a purported draft of a charge sheet against Prime Minister Najib Razak published on the Sarawak Report website was false, and part of a plot to topple the country's leader.
Mohamed Apandi Ali said the documents had not been issued by his office, and he had ordered an investigation into the publication of the alleged papers.
"These alleged charge papers therefore indicate that there is a conspiracy to topple a serving Prime Minister by criminalizing him, and that the methods include doctoring and criminal leakage," Apandi said in a statement released late on Thursday.
Sarawak Report, a website run by London-based journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown, published documents on Thursday it said showed that the previous Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail was on the brink of bringing corruption charges against Najib before he was replaced earlier this week.
Rewcastle-Brown said on Friday she stood by the authenticity of the documents.
Corruption allegations swirling around the debt-laden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)[TERRN.UL] pose the biggest threat to Najib's credibility since he took office in 2009. The prime minister chairs the state-owned firm's advisory board.
Najib has denied taking any money for personal gain, saying the corruption allegations are part of a malicious campaign to force him from office.
"The alleged charge sheets are not in, and never reached, the Attorney General's Chambers. Furthermore, the format of the sheets is not correct or written by our Chambers," Apandi said, adding the full force of the law would be applied without exception to anyone involved in publishing the documents.
Sarawak Report has been publishing reports and documents that allegedly include graft and mismanagement by 1MDB, which has debts of more than $11 billion.
Commenting on the charge sheet documents, Rewcastle-Brown said she received the materials, and "cross checked with other senior people who had knowledge of what's happening." They confirmed that Patail had been close to bringing corruption charges against Najib.
"All the information in the draft document I was sent relates to cross checks with the information we already have," she told Reuters by telephone.
Malaysian authorities blocked access to the news portal this month claiming it had violated a local Internet law, in a move condemned by opposition lawmakers and activists.
A task force of the central bank, the attorney-general's office, the police department and the anti-corruption commission are investigating allegations of graft and financial mismanagement in 1MDB.
Najib sacked his deputy and four other ministers in a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, and replaced the attorney general, who the government said was in ill health.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon and Trinna Leong; Editing by Jeremy Laurence and Ian Geoghegan)