Malaysia's mega 1MDB scandal that brought down Najib Razak
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.
In his first trial linked to a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was found guilty on Tuesday on all seven corruption charges. He faced charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power for allegedly illegally receiving nearly $10 million from former 1MDB unit SRC International. He had plead not guilty.
Each of the charges carry hefty fines and jail terms of up to 15 or 20 years. Najib's lawyers are seeking a delay in sentencing. Najib has said he would appeal any decision at the federal court. He still faces multiple criminal charges over allegations that $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB.
Najib 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.
The landmark case is seen as a test of Malaysia's efforts to root out corruption, after Najib's party was returned to power in February as part of an alliance led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
WHAT IS 1MDB?
1MDB was a sovereign fund set up in 2009 with the help of Malaysian financier Jho Low to promote economic development. Najib chaired its advisory board until 2016.
HOW DID BILLIONS GO MISSING?
1MDB raised billions of dollars in bonds for use in investment projects and joint ventures between 2009 and 2013.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said $4.5 billion was diverted to offshore bank accounts and shell companies, many linked to Low.
Malaysian authorities say at least $4.3 billion more is unaccounted for.
The funds siphoned off were used to buy luxury assets and real estate for Low and his associates, including a private jet, a superyacht, hotels, and artwork by Picasso and Monet, US lawsuits said.
Some of the money was allegedly used to finance Hollywood films including 2013's "The Wolf of Wall Street", produced by Red Granite, a film company co-founded by Najib's stepson, Riza Aziz. Malaysian prosecutors withdrew money laundering charges against Riza in May after reaching a $107.3 million settlement.
HOW WAS NAJIB INVOLVED?
Authorities say Najib illegally received more than $1 billion traceable to 1MDB. Najib, voted out in a 2018 election amid public anger over the scandal, has plead not guilty to 42 criminal charges over losses at 1MDB and other state entities.
Defence lawyers say he was misled by Low and that the funds in his accounts were donations from the Saudi royal family. Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, has also been charged with money laundering and bribery. She has pleaded not guilty.
HOW ARE AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATING 1MDB?
At least six countries, including Singapore and Switzerland, have launched money laundering, financial mismanagement and criminal investigations into 1MDB dealings. The DoJ struck a deal in November to recoup $1 billion from the sale of seized assets linked to Low, a record haul for a US anti-corruption probe.
Malaysia had also accused Goldman Sachs of misleading investors over three bond sales totalling $6.5 billion that the US bank helped raise for 1MDB. Goldman had pleaded not guilty and consistently denied wrongdoing.
This week, Goldman agreed to settle the dispute for $3.9 billion with Malaysia, which will drop all criminal charges against the bank.
WHERE IS JHO LOW NOW?
Low, charged in Malaysia and the United States over his central role in the case, denies wrongdoing. His whereabouts are not known though authorities believe he may be hiding in China. The verdict could have far reaching political implications for the Southeast Asian nation.
The guilty verdict could boost PM Muhyiddin's credibility with the public, but weaken his coalition, which counts Najib's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) as its biggest component -- and potentially trigger snap polls.