Southeast Asia

Malaysia court upholds ex-PM Najib Razak's graft conviction

Published : December 08, 2021 17:29 IST

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's has been out on bail pending appeal. Photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng

In 2020, former Prime Minister Najib Razak was convicted and sentenced to 12 years for looting the state investment fund.

A Malaysian appeals court ruled to uphold the graft conviction of the country's former prime minister Najib Razak on December 8. Najib was convicted of looting the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) state investment fund in July 2020. December 8's ruling comes in one of many corruption and money laundering cases against Najib, who faces 12 years in prison and a fine worth $50 million (€44 million).

Najib has been free on bail pending the appeal. He was found guilty of crimes including abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering. He was convicted of receiving illegal payments totaling 42 million ringgit (€8.8 million or $9.9 million) from a former unit of 1MDB, SRC International. The former prime minister also faces other charges in several ongoing trials.Najib's wife is also on trial for corruption charges.

The ruling was delivered over video conferencing web app Zoom as one of Najib's lawyers is believed to have contracted COVID-19. Najib's lawyer Shafee Abdullah vowed to appeal to Malaysia's highest federal court following the ruling.

What happened during Najib's appeal?

Najib claimed that he was deceived into thinking the money was donated by the ruling Saudi family, adding he was this to keep him out of the loop about 1MDB being drained of funds. Judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil found this argumentation implausible. "We dismiss the appeal on all seven charges and affirm the conviction on all seven charges," the judge said.

What is 1MDB?

Najib set up 1MDB not long after taking office in 2009. The fallout from the 1MDB scandal spawned investigations in several countries, including the U.S. Ultimately, investigators allege the heist totaled $4.5 billion. Najib's lawyers argued their client was denied a fair trial due to the "serious misdirections" of the high court judge. Najib claims he was unaware of the SRC money funneled into his accounts and alleges fugitive financier Low Taek Jho misled him. Investigators believe Low was the ringleader in the theft. Najib has denied wrongdoing in the looting of the fund and charges the case against him is politically motivated.

ar/wmr (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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