Kuala Lumpur High Court: Popularly called as the “Man of Steal” by his critics, former PM of Malaysia, Mr. Najib Razak was sentenced to 12 years in prison for abuse of power, and 10 years in jail for each of six counts of money laundering and breach of trust. The sentences are to run concurrently. Additionally he has to pay a fine of nearly $50 million. Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali, J., rejected the argument that Mr. Najib received the money as a gift from a Saudi royal and that he was unaware of the balance in his own account. The Judge observed that, “After considering all evidence in this trial, I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
There were several allegations against him like pilferation of government coffers to lead a luxurious life. Most importantly he was accused of transferring 42 million ringgit ($10m) from 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to his private accounts during his tenure as PM. The Fund was a sovereign wealth fund, set up in 2009, when Razak was the PM. Sovereign wealth funds are government-owned investment funds that are used to boost a country’s economic development. In 2015, questions were raised around 1MBD’s activities after it missed payments owed to banks and bondholders. Malaysian and US authorities allege that $4.5bn was illicitly plundered from the fund and diverted into private pockets.
The Court rejecting Mr. Najib’s defense that the theft was carried out without his knowledge by Jho Low, a wealthy Malaysian businessman, observed that, “It would be extraordinary that the accused as the then-prime minister and finance minister did not know it.” In rejecting Mr. Najib’s defense and questioning his credibility, the Judge cast doubt on whether the former prime minister’s legal strategy can be effective in his upcoming trials, which will focus on much larger amounts of money that went missing from 1MDB.
Source: The New York Times
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