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Former PM of Malaysia is jailed over role in state fund scandal


Najib Razak leaving court

Najib Razak leaving court

Najib Razak leaving court

Malaysia's former leader, Najib Razak, was jailed for 12 years yesterday after being found guilty of corruption.

It was the first trial over a huge financial scandal at state fund 1MDB that stretched to the Gulf states and Hollywood.

In a case widely seen as a test of the nation's resolve to stamp out corruption, high court judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali imposed the 12-year sentence and fined Najib 210m ringgit (€42m) on a charge of abuse of power.

Najib (67) was also jailed for 10 years, to run concurrently, on each of three charges of criminal breach of trust and three of money laundering for illegally receiving €8.5m from SRC International, a former unit of the state fund.

The judge allowed a request by Najib's lawyers to delay the jail sentence and the financial penalty, but asked Najib to post additional bail and report to a police station twice a month.

Najib had pleaded not guilty, and said he would appeal the verdict in Malaysia's Federal Court if convicted.

The verdict could potentially be partially or fully overturned by the higher court on appeal, though that could take years.

The sum involved in the SRC case is a fraction of the funds Najib is alleged to have misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Prosecutors say more than €852m of 1MDB funds made its way into Najib's personal accounts. He led the country for almost a decade before losing the 2018 election.

Malaysian authorities say a total of €3.8bn is believed to have been stolen from 1MDB, a fund Najib founded to promote economic development, and used by his associates to buy art, a superyacht and fund the 'Wolf of Wall Street' movie.

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Prosecutors also said €23m was spent on a pink diamond necklace for Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, and some of the money went into warchests for his election campaigns.

Former US attorney-general Jeff Sessions described the scandal as kleptocracy at its worst.

Allegations of corruption over 1MDB have hung over Najib for more than five years. But the criminal charges came only after his election defeat in 2018 when his successor Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations.

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with Singapore's Institute of International Affairs, said the verdict was significant.

"It is the first time a prime minister has been convicted of essentially corruption-related charges and testifies to the level of corruption in Malaysia," he said. While the Federal Court could overturn the verdict, he noted the judge was "extremely thorough in his analysis and reasoning for grounds of judgment".

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