(Bloomberg) -- Former Malaysian navy chief Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to a 9 billion ringgit contract for littoral combat ships.  

Ramli allegedly approved payments totaling 21 million ringgit ($4.7 million) to three firms without the approval of Boustead Heavy Industries Corp.’s board, according to an official at Malaysia’s anti-graft commission, which investigated the project, and local media reports.

The alleged offense was committed between July 2010 and May 2011, the New Strait Times reported, citing the charge sheet. The court set 500,000 ringgit bail and fixed Nov. 24 for mention, the report said.

Ramli was managing director of Boustead, which was awarded the contract to build the ships for the navy.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission didn’t officially respond to a request for comment. 

A report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) earlier this month revealed that none of the six warships had been completed although the government had spent 6 billion ringgit on the project since it was commissioned in 2011.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob last week said the nation’s anti-graft commission had been asked to speed up its investigation into the project. The Cabinet has also agreed to declassify the 2019 forensic report on the project after advice from the attorney-general and auditor general, he said.

Ismail’s United Malays National Organisation has said the opposition will try to turn the brewing scandal over the vessels into an election issue, similar to 1MDB. Public anger over the financial scandal involving the state investment fund saw UMNO and its coalition lose the elections in 2018. 

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