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Ex-Malaysian Prime Minister Found Guilty of Looting Sovereign Fund, Gets 12 Years in Prison

A court in Malaysia has sentenced former Prime Minister Najib Razak to 12 years in jail after finding him guilty on all seven counts in the first of several multi-million dollar corruption trials.

Najib had pleaded not guilty to the charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power.

The case against him is seen as a test of Malaysia’s anti-corruption efforts.

High Court judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali said the prosecution “has successfully proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The court on Tuesday evening announced 10-year jail sentences for each of Najib’s three counts of criminal breach of trust as well as the three counts of money laundering, but the judge ordered that they should be served concurrently.

Razak’s case centres around the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a sovereign wealth fund set up in 2009, when Najib Razak was prime minister.

Sovereign wealth funds are government-owned investment funds that are used to boost a country’s economic development. Built with state earnings, such as revenues from oil resources and exports, they have extraordinary flows of cash to invest and potentially enormous international clout.

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 missing money has been linked to luxury real estate, a private jet, Van Gogh and Monet artworks – and even a Hollywood blockbuster, the Wolf of Wall Street.

The former prime minister was cleared of all allegations by Malaysian authorities while he was still in office.

Yet the accusations played a big part in his election defeat in 2018 – and the new government swiftly reopened investigations into the 1MDB case.

While Tuesday’s verdicts were the first, they were possibly not the most significant.

A separate trial that began last August looks at accusations the former prime minister illicitly obtained 2.28bn ringgit ($550m, £448m) from 1MDB between 2011 and 2014.

He is facing 21 counts of money-laundering and four of abuse of power but again denies any wrongdoing.

His wife, Rosmah Mansor, also faces money-laundering and tax evasion charges, to which she has pleaded not guilty.

Featured Image Credit: The Malaysian Insight


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