28 Jul 2020

Najib Razak: Former Malaysian PM convicted on all charges in corruption trial

5:09 pm on 28 July 2020

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been found guilty on all seven corruption charges in his first trial linked to a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is pictured at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur on January 8, 2020

Najib Razak. Photo: AFP

The landmark case has been widely seen as a test for the country's efforts to stamp out corruption and could have big political implications for the Southeast Asian nation.

"After considering all evidence in this trial, I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt," Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali said.

Razak faced seven charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power for allegedly illegally receiving nearly $10 million ($NZ15m) from former 1MDB unit SRC International. He had pleaded not guilty.

Each of the charges carries hefty fines and jail terms of up to 15 or 20 years.

Razak's lawyers are seeking a delay in sentencing. He has said he would appeal any decision at the federal court.

The former prime minister, who was voted out in a historic 2018 election, still faces multiple criminal charges over allegations that $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB.

Prosecutors allege more than $1bn of the funds made its way into his personal accounts.

The former premier arrived in court to shouts of "long live Najib" by hundreds of supporters who had gathered outside.

Wearing a mask and flanked by top leaders of his party, Razak offered prayers just outside the courtroom.

His lawyers said he was misled by Malaysian financier Jho Low and other 1MDB officials into believing that the funds banked into his accounts were donated by the Saudi royal family, rather than misappropriated from SRC as prosecutors have alleged. Low denies wrongdoing.

Allegations of corruption over 1MDB have hung over Razak for more than five years. But the criminal charges came only after his defeat in the 2018 election when his successor Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations.

The closely-watched case is seen as a test of Malaysia's efforts to root out corruption, after Najib's party was returned to power in February as part of an alliance led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The verdict could have far-reaching political implications.

The guilty verdict could boost Muhyiddin's credibility with the public, but weaken his coalition, which counts Razak's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) as its biggest component - and potentially trigger snap polls.

- Reuters

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