Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Sent to Jail Over 1MDB Corruption Case



Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak began a 12-year prison term on Tuesday after losing his final appeal in a high-profile case linked to the massive looting of a public investment fund.

The 69-year-old, who from 2009 to 2018 held power tightly, is Malaysia’s first former prime minister to be sent to prison. In 2020, he was convicted of various crimes including money laundering and abuse of power, but remained free while appeals were pending. He claimed his innocence.

On Tuesday, a five-judge panel of the Federal Court of Malaysia ruled that Najib’s appeal was without merit and that the original High Court ruling was correct. His sentence is to be served in Kajang prison, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, and he is to be assessed a $47 million fine.

“This is a simple and straightforward case of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering,” Chief Justice Maimun Tuan Mat said in announcing the ruling, according to The Associated. Press.

Najib’s imprisonment is the latest in a series of amazing developments in the case around 1MDB, also known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a state fund co-founded by the former prime minister during his first term in 2009. The US Department of Justice later discovered that at least $4.5 billion of the fund had been embezzled by high-level officials in a global scandal.

The enormous scale of corruption has attracted international financial groups, including Goldman Sachs, which struck a $3.9 billion deal with Malaysia to resolve criminal charges linked to 1MDB in 2020. The Corruption Money was involved in the financing of Martin Scorsese’s film “the wolf of Wall Streetand used to buy hotels in Beverly Hills and paintings by Vincent van Gogh, according to investigators.

More than $1 billion in stolen money was sent to Najib, according to Malaysian authorities, although the charges that landed him in jail related to a specific payment of $9.8 million.

The former prime minister dismissed the charges against him as politically motivated. Najib claimed to have been the victim of financier Low Taek Jho (known as Jho Low), who is still at large.

A member of Malaysia’s political elite, Najib is the third member of his family to serve as prime minister, after his father and uncle. He was educated at a British boarding school and studied economics at the University of Nottingham, before becoming the youngest MP aged just 23 after his father died.

Entering the Prime Minister’s office himself in 2009, he had promised economic and political reforms. However, by the time he was forced out of office after losing an election in 2018 – the first time the ruling United Malayan National Organization (UMNO) coalition had lost since independence – he was entangled in the 1MDB scandal and increasingly seen as an authoritarian.

Opposition leaders hailed Tuesday’s court ruling and noted the bravery shown by justice officials, including Maimun, the country’s first female chief justice, who had been accused of bias by lawyers of Najib and had received death threats from his supporters.

However, Tuesday’s decision could prove a quiet victory for those looking to hold Najib accountable. There remains the prospect of a royal pardon for the former Prime Minister, who remains popular with a section of society and influential within the UMNO, which returns to government as part of a coalition. The whereabouts of Jho Low remain unknown, with Beijing denying reports that he is in China.

According to local media reports, Najib was in court when Tuesday’s verdict was read, accompanied by his wife and three children. Some accounts said he appeared shocked by the decision.

However, a note apparently written to his family ahead of the ruling decision indicates the former prime minister was considering his fate. It alludes to times when he had sacrificed his personal life for politics and suggests he would find support for his Muslim faith in the future.

“The world of politics and public service has its pros and cons,” he wrote, according to a copy of the note to his family posted at his official Facebook page.


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