Najib was found guilty on Tuesday in a first of several trials in the corruption scandal surrounding the Malaysian development fund 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad). “After examining all the evidence in this trial, I believe that the public prosecutor’s office has successfully put forward arguments for his case,” said Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali, Supreme Court judge in Kuala Lumpur. Najib has been imprisoned for several years.
Close Najib employees are also accused of robbing 1MDB. That fund was intended for foreign investments that should have brought prosperity to the Malaysian population. It is a fraud of several billion dollars, with international ramifications in China, among others. Some of the misappropriated funds are said to have been used to finance the film The wolf of Wall Street. Goldman Sachs bank was also discredited in the affair. A few days ago, Malaysia signed a 3.07 billion euro deal with the bank for its role in the 1MDB scandal.
The historical case is seen as a test of Malaysia’s efforts to eradicate corruption. After all, current Prime Minister Muhammed Yassin promised that. However, his government needs the support of Umno, Najib’s party. That Yassin recently filed complaints against Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz, a producer of The wolf of Wall Street, dropped, did not go down well with activists.
Yassin came to power only recently after the previous prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, resigned quite unexpectedly in February. Mahathir won the 2018 elections from Najib, who had been the country’s prime minister since 2009. The defeat was attributed to the Malays’s dismay at Najib’s corruption that came to light at the time.
The recent switch of power fuels concerns in Malaysia that politics will have an impact on the further development of this and subsequent processes. Najib had previously said he would appeal any decision to federal court.
Spindle in three processes
The ex-prime minister is the linchpin in three processes around 1MDB. The first trial, which started 16 months ago, involved SRC International’s 42 million ringgit ($ 9.9 million), part of 1MDB, which flowed into ex-prime bank accounts. Najib was on trial for abuse of power, abuse of trust and money laundering.
Najib insists he is innocent and says the processes are politically motivated. His lawyers state that he was tricked by Malaysian businessman Jho Low and other 1MDB officials. He would have been told that the money deposited into his accounts was donations from the Saudi royal family. Low firmly denies that.