A Malaysian court on Tuesday sentenced Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak to 12 years in jail and fined him 210 million ringgit ($49.40 million) for abuse of power linked to a multi-billion dollar financial scandal at state fund 1MDB.
Najib had pleaded not guilty to the charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering, and abuse of power.
The case against him is seen as a test of Malaysia’s anti-corruption efforts.
The 1MDB scandal around a state-owned wealth fund in Malaysia has uncovered a global web of fraud and corruption.
It sent shockwaves through Malaysia’s political establishment, leading to the toppling of Najib’s UMNO party, which had governed the country for 61 years since it gained independence.
Najib, in office from 2009 to 2018, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for abuse of power, and 10 years in jail for each of six counts of money laundering and breach of trust.
The sentences – to run concurrently – will be suspended pending appeal.
“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.
“I am surely not satisfied with the result,” Najib told reporters.
“This is definitely not the end of the world, because there’s a process of appeal, and we hope that we would be successful then,” he added.
What were the accusations?
Tuesday’s verdicts centered 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 defense 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 carried as much as 15 to 20 years in prison each.
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