Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, found guilty of seven charges against him in his initial trial associated with a multi billion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MBD) scandal. On the other hand, Najib denied any offense in relation to the world’s biggest financial fraud, in which billions of dollars were supposedly looted from the government fund set up to promote development.
#BREAKING: Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak found guilty of all 7 charges on counts of power abuse, criminal breach of trust, money laundering involving misappropriation of RM42m SRC International funds. He could face 20 years in prison. Will be disqualified from General Election.
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) July 28, 2020
The financial fraud scandal shook the whole politics of Malaysia, led to the ousting of the Umno party of Najib after sixty-one years in power, and driven a wave of investigation in countries across the world. Less than two years of its removal from the government, Umno returned to power again in March, through a coalition, led by Muhyiddin Yassin as a prime minister.
However, critics questioned whether the change in leadership would create complications in the investigation of ongoing corruption cases. Overall, Najib faces five different trials linked to the 1MDB scandal. The verdict of Tuesday relates to seven charges concerning the transfer of $9.9 million (forty-two million ringgit) from former 1MBD unit SRC International into the bank accounts of Najib via intermediary firms.
Najib decided to go to the Court of Appeal
Late on Monday, Najib said in a Facebook post that he was ready to fight to the end. He said he would appeal of he found guilty and expects prosecutors to appeal in case of his innocent approval from the court. From the first day, he used to claim it as a golden opportunity to clear his name. The decision of the High Court is not the final decision, and he will go to the Court of Appeal after this. And he is ready for that, Najib wrote.
The bench of Judges heard the lavish spending of Najib during the trial, such as, at one time, he spent $800,000 at jewelry in Italy in one day, and, some months later, he spent $108,000 at a Chanel boutique in Hawaii. Whereas, the former prime minister defended his credit card spending as purchases for official purposes. He pleaded not guilty to money laundering, criminal breach of trust, and illegal use of power. The court may charge him with hefty fines and up to twenty years in prison for each charge.
Najib testified that Jho Low, the Malaysian financier, and other 1MDB officials misled him into believing that the Saudi royal family donated the funds and not stolen from SRC, as prosecutors claim. In 2016, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia proclaimed the funds as a genuine donation, but the government didn’t comment on the case since. Muhyiddin planned to introduce anti-corruption reforms.
The officials dropped the Charges against Najib’s stepson
Activists criticized the decision to drop charges against Riza Aziz, the stepson of Najib, the producer behind “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in a settlement agreement. Overall, the United States justice department believes that the associates of Najib stole and laundered over $4.5 billion from the 1MBD fund. Over $700 million from the fund supposedly transferred in the bank accounts of Najib.
Several officials from the Umno party and former government, along with Najib’s wife also charged with graft. Goldman Sachs settled on a $3.9 billion deal, in return for Malaysia dropping offensive charges against the investment bank over its part in assisting 1MDB to sell $6.5 billion in bonds.