In the High Court today, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been found guilty of power abuse in relation to his involvement with the misappropriation of US$9.8 million (RM42 million) from SRC international.
The trial was part of a larger case involving billions of dollars that were allegedly stolen from Malaysia’s failed sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
In relation to SRC International, Najib faced seven different charges involving his alleged use of millions of dollars to go shopping at luxury stores, pay for expensive home renovations, and to funnel extra funding for parties within his then-ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN).
Najib Razak has become the first Malaysian Prime Minister in history to be convicted in a criminal court.
The guilty verdict will land the former Prime Minister in prison for 20 years for the abuse of power charge. He’ll also be slapped with a fine. For the three criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges, Najib faces 20 years in prison, whipping, and a fine. And for the money laundering charges, the former Prime Minister faces 15 years in prison, as well as a fine.
Throughout the months leading up the trial, Najib expressed confidence about the verdict, claiming he had done no wrong.
Add to this the furious support he has gathered, be it with a large swathe of the Malaysian population (predominantly ethnic Malays) and fellow political allies.
Justice Nazlan ruled Najib’s claim that he wasn’t aware of his personal bank accounts being overdrawn as flawed.
“It would be extraordinary that the accused as the then PM and finance minister did not know about it,” the judge says.
Najib appeared calm when Justice Nazlan read out his decision. However, lead counsel Shafee Abdullah has asked for a stay of conviction, proposing that sentencing and mitigation be adjourned to Monday, August 3.
But ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram objected to postponing Najib’s sentencing.
“Your Lordship has found the accused guilty. Usually, a stay comes after a sentence. Stay of conviction? There cannot be a stay of conviction.”
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This corruption scandal led to the downfall of Najib’s BN coalition, which had ruled Malaysia for over 60 years.