Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak found guilty of corruption over scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been found guilty on all seven corruption charges in his first trial linked to a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
- He was found guilty over the multi-billion-dollar looting of the 1MDB investment fund
- Najib faces 42 charges in five separate trials and could spend years in prison
- He promises to appeal, saying the case against him is political
The ruling came five months after a new government took power with Najib’s Malay party the biggest bloc in the alliance.
His party’s shocking election ouster in 2018 was driven by public anger over the 1MDB scandal.
“After considering all evidence in this trial, I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali said.
He faces 42 charges in five separate trials and could spend years in prison.
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Najib, 67, has promised to appeal. He said he was misled by rogue bankers and the case against him is political.
“From day one, I have said this is the chance for me to clear my name,” he wrote on Facebook late Monday (local time).
“After this, we will go to the Court of Appeal. I am ready.”
Analysts said the ruling would bolster the prosecution’s case in Najib’s other trials and would signal to the business community Malaysia’s legal system has strength in tackling international financial crimes.
Najib misappropriated money for his own use, judge says
Najib’s lawyers asked the judge for a delay until next week before they made their arguments on sentencing.
The current trial involved a charge of abuse of power, three charges of criminal breach of trust and three money laundering charges.
The judge said Najib failed to raise reasonable doubt and that prosecutors had established beyond reasonable doubt that Najib misappropriated money for his own use.
“The conviction would serve as a solid foundation for the prosecution in ensuing 1MDB-related trials,” said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with Singapore’s Institute of International Affairs.
He said the ruling also would strengthen the credibility of current Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who was fired as Najib’s deputy, five years ago to the date of Tuesday’s verdict, for speaking out on the 1MDB scandal, although he now relies on Najib’s party for support.
Najib’s party was the biggest bloc in the current Malay nationalist alliance, which was formed in March after Muhyiddin’s party toppled the former reformist government.
Shortly after taking office in 2009, Najib set up 1MDB to ostensibly accelerate Malaysia’s economic development.
But the fund accumulated billions in debt, and US investigators alleged at least $US4.5 billion ($6.3 billion) was stolen from it and laundered by Najib’s associates to finance Hollywood films and buy hotels, a luxury yacht, artwork, jewellery and other extravagances.
More than $US700 million ($980 million) from the fund allegedly landed in Najib’s bank accounts.
Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, and several officials from his party and previous government have also been charged with corruption.
Najib, whose father and uncle were Malaysia’s second and third prime ministers, denies any wrongdoing.
He calls the prosecutions a political attack on him.