A Malaysian court today found former prime minister Najib Razak guilty of all seven charges in a case tied to the multi-billion-dollar financial scandal at state fund 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB). The charges include three counts of money laundering, three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of abuse of power. Najib faces a total of 42 counts of corruption and a further four cases linked to 1MDB are still to follow. Judge Mohd Nazlan Ghazali said Najib, 67, “acted outside the limits of the permissible conduct” when approving loans. Funds were transferred into his personal accounts. This included US$9.8 million misappropriated from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit. Nazlan said the defense had failed to raise reasonable doubt and declared: “I find the accused guilty and convict him on all seven charges.”
Sentencing is yet to be passed but each charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years and hefty fines, although Najib is expected to be spared the cane given his age. Last week Malaysia’s High Court ordered Najib to pay the government about $400 million in back taxes and penalties stemming from his 10 years in office. He was ousted at elections in 2018 after former long-serving prime minister Mahathir Mohamad combined forces with his former deputy Anwar Ibrahim to claim a landslide victory. Throughout his tenure Najib had done his best to stifle the Malaysian press and criticism of his administration. Journalists were often threatened and the breathtaking allegations of corruption that dogged 1MDB were revealed in the Western press led by The Wall Street Journal
. That culminated in the United States Department of Justice alleging $4.5 billion of government money went missing from 1MDB under Najib, who had established the fund. Prosecutors successfully argued Najib had used the money to fund his political campaign and to acquire property and luxury goods. His wife, the unpopular Rosmah Mansoor, was also a big spender and known for a shoe fetish rivaling Imelda Marcos, a pink diamond worth more than $27 million and $240,000 worth of anti-aging supplements. She is also before the courts. Najib, who arrived in court wearing a face mask and flanked by cheering supporters, is expected to appeal the verdict. On July 27, he wrote on his Facebook account: “This is my chance to clear my name … Whatever the decision tomorrow at the high court, it does not end here.” The appeal process could take another year.
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