KUALA LUMPUR – Former Prime Minister Najib Razak has been moved to prison after Malaysia’s Supreme Court rejected his final appeal to corruption convictions, capping a year-long quest by authorities to prosecute him for his role in One of the biggest financial scandals in the world.
The ruling by Malaysia’s Federal Court on Tuesday upheld Najib’s convictions on seven counts including abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust. Convicted in 2020He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a fine of nearly $50 million, but his sentence remained throughout the appeals process.
Najib, 69, who remains an influential figure in Malaysian politics, has denied any wrongdoing throughout the proceedings against him. On Tuesday, he appeared in court with his wife and three children and gave a lengthy statement before the verdict, in which he said the court had treated him unfairly. “At the final stage of the case, it is even worse to realize that the power of the judicial mechanism is being held against me in an unfair manner,” he said.
Federal Court President Tengko Memon Tuan Mat said the five-member panel of the court unanimously rejected Mr. Najib’s appeals and affirmed his conviction and sentence. “The defense is so inconsistent in nature and so implausible that it did not arouse reasonable doubt about the case,” she said.
Prosecutors accused Mr. Najib of lagging behind A sprawling multinational fraud scheme Which includes 1Malaysia Development Bhd. , known as 1MDB, the country’s state investment fund. Investigators in Malaysia and the United States alleged that Najib and his associates stole billions of dollars from the fund while he was in office.
The rejection of Mr Najib’s appeal and his immediate imprisonment may repair some of the damage that the scandal, which has spread to several jurisdictions, has done to Malaysia’s international reputation. While others were prosecuted for their involvement in 1MDB fraud, Mr. Najib was accused of involvement The political figure is at its center.
“The perception was that people in high positions of political power could get away with their crimes,” said Bridget Welch, research assistant emeritus at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. “Most Malaysians never believed this would happen. It is a good day for justice in Malaysia.”
The scandal led to calls for Mr. Najib’s resignation and His final defeat in the 2018 elections, when he was defeated by political opponents who later revived investigations into his alleged financial misconduct. He has since faced 42 criminal charges in five separate cases, most of which are still before the courts.
Tuesday’s decision was linked to a case against him that was the first against him to result in a conviction, and included allegations that nearly $10 million was diverted from a former 1MDB unit called SRC International Sdn Bhd. to his personal bank accounts.
Tuesday’s ruling ended Najib’s last avenue of judicial appeal, although he could still be released with a royal pardon. His political party, the United Malays National Organization, regained some popularity after its defeat in 2018, which ended six consecutive decades in power. After Mr. Najib lost the premiership, he continued to serve as a Member of Parliament, but now that his conviction has been upheld, he has been barred from taking his current seat and making any future nominations for the post.
Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a senior lawyer involved in constitutional and public interest litigation said. “It is truly an affirmation of the principle of ‘without fear or favour’.”
Malaysian authorities say Najib oversaw the looting of 1MDB, which he seized and expanded after he was elected prime minister in 2009. The US Department of Justice said more than $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund between 2009 and 2015 in a detailed scheme that involved bribing officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates United for lucrative deals and fundraising for the fund, laundering loot through luxury real estate, artwork and Hollywood movies.
Mr. Najib had a close relationship with Malaysian financier Goh Lo, the alleged architect of the site. Mr Lu, whose whereabouts are not known, has denied any wrongdoing. He faces more than a dozen criminal charges In Malaysia and the United States, including money laundering and bribery. The Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers said in July that Lu’s lawyer had sought a settlement, but the offer was turned down.
In 2018, a New York court indicted Mr. Lu and two bankers in favor of the global investment firm
Conspiracy to launder billions of dollars and violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Bank approved To pay more than 5 billion dollars To settle related lawsuits in the United States and Malaysia. Tim Lesnar, one of the accused bankers, pleaded guilty. The other, Roger Ng, was convicted in April.
Civil lawsuits brought by the Department of Justice since 2016 have resulted in the return to Malaysia of more than $1.2 billion in confiscated assets linked to the scandal.
Mr Najib himself was accused by Malaysian investigators of embezzling more than $680 million from 1MDB, some of which was transferred directly to his personal bank accounts. To fund his family’s ostentatious lifestyle. Raids on Najib’s property in 2018 resulted in more than $220 million in cash and valuables. Police said they seized a collection of necklaces, watches, crowns and luxury handbags, some stuffed with cash.
Naguib’s wife, Rosma Mansour, was famous for her expensive taste: among the loot was her collection of Birkin Bags, an expensive collection of handbags by French design house Hermès.
During his appeal, Najib described the judiciary as biased and made multiple interventions that political analysts say appeared aimed at prolonging the proceedings – perhaps in the hope that a change of government could provide him with a chance to obtain clemency. His last petition to the Federal Court contained 94 grounds for appeal.
The court ruled that his complaint was unfounded.
“We can see that the delay was clearly part of the tactic,” said Ms Welch, from the University of Nottingham Malaysia. “This is all part of a political narrative geared towards finding exit strategies for it.”
write to Feliz Solomon at f[email protected] and Ying Xian Wong at [email protected]
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