Abuse of power and breach of trust charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count.
Najib, 65, who looked calm, only said, "understood" after the three charges were read out to him one by one by a court interpreter before Judge Azura Alwi.
Razak was charged under a money laundering act with three counts of receiving a total of RM42 million ($10.3 million) from unlawful activities into two bank accounts from SRC International, a 1MDB subsidiary, Malaysian state news agency Bernama reported.
Fines as much as five times the amount for each money-laundering charge can be imposed as well.
Lokman rallied a group of about 50 supporters outside of MACC headquarters last month to protest as Najib was brought in to be arrested.
Reopening the investigations into 1MDB after Najib lost power, Malaysian anti-graft officers have revealed how their earlier investigations were obstructed by Najib's government.
"The charges are related to the SRC International case", it said in a statement.
In 2015, the former prime minister resisted demands to step down despite reports of financial mismanagement at the government-owned company 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and allegations that he had received $681 million (Rs 4,425 crore) in his personal bank account. His case was being transferred to another court for a plea to be taken.
The then attorney general - who had ties to Najib's party - cleared the leader of wrongdoing, and said that the money had been a donation from the Saudi royal family.
Najib had founded 1MDB and headed its advisory board.
Police also seized jewellery and valuables valued at more than 1.1 billion ringgit (£208m) from properties linked to Mr Najib. Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho (better known as Jho Low) allegedly bought the yacht using funds stolen from 1MDB.
The US Department of Justice says an estimated $4.5 billion (S$6.2 billion) was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.
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