Ex-Malaysian PM found guilty of multi-million dollar corruption charges

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Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak has been found guilty of all seven charges in the first of several multi-million dollar corruption trials.

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

The case against Najib, in office from 2009 to 2018, was widely seen as a test of Malaysia’s anti-corruption efforts.

The scandal around Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund has uncovered a global web of fraud and corruption.

Najib could now face decades in prison – but he is expected to remain out of prison until appeals are exhausted.

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

What were the accusations?

Tuesday’s verdicts centred on 42 million ringgit ($10m, £7.7m) transferred from the fund to the then-prime minister’s private accounts.

Najib denies all wrongdoing and says he was misled by financial advisers – in particular fugitive financier Jho Low.

Jho Low has been charged in both the US and Malaysia, but also maintains his innocence.

Najib’s defence team argued he was led to believe the funds in his accounts were donated by the Saudi royal family – rather than misappropriated from the state fund.

The charges carry as much as 15 to 20 years in prison each. Before the verdict, Najib said he would appeal if found guilty.

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What is the 1MDB scandal?

The 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund was set up in 2009, when Najib Razak was prime minister, to boost the country’s economic development.

In 2015, questions were raised around its 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.

Last week, US bank Goldman Sachs reached a $3.9bn (£3bn) settlement with the Malaysian government for its role in the multi-billion-dollar corruption scheme.

The deal resolved charges in Malaysia that the bank misled investors when it helped raise $6.5bn for 1MDB.

BBC