Malaysian justice upholds ex-prime minister Najib’s corruption conviction

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PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) – The Malaysian Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld the conviction of former Prime Minister Najib Razak linked to the massive looting of the 1MDB public investment fund that toppled his government in 2018.

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) – The Malaysian Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld the conviction of former Prime Minister Najib Razak linked to the massive looting of the 1MDB public investment fund that toppled his government in 2018.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a high court ruled in July 2020 that he was guilty of abuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering for illegally receiving 42 million of ringgit ($ 9.9 million) from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

The Court of Appeal’s decision came via a Zoom hearing after a defense lawyer was suspected of contracting COVID-19.

“We reject the appeal (…) and uphold the conviction of the High Court on the seven counts,” said Court of Appeal judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil.

Najib can always appeal to the Federal Court, the country’s highest court.

THIS IS A CURRENT UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

Malaysia’s Court of Appeal will decide on Wednesday whether to acquit ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak or maintain his conviction and 12-year prison sentence linked to the massive looting of the 1MDB public investment fund that overthrew his government in 2018.

Najib was found guilty by a high court in July 2020 of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering for illegally receiving 42 million ringgit ($ 9.9 million) from SRC International, an old unit of 1MDB.

The ruling was part of the first of several corruption lawsuits against Najib linked to the 1MDB scandal, which has sparked investigations in the United States and several other countries. US investigators alleged that more than $ 4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB and laundered by Najib’s associates.

The Court of Appeal’s decision will be made via a Zoom hearing after a defense lawyer has been suspected of contracting COVID-19.

If his conviction is upheld, Najib can still appeal to the Federal Court, the country’s highest court. If he is acquitted, prosecutors can do the same.

Najib, who created 1MDB shortly after taking office in 2009, denied any wrongdoing and said the charges against him were political. He is on bail pending appeal. He has just returned from Singapore, after the court approved his earlier request to travel to be with his daughter who has just given birth.

Despite his corruption conviction, Najib, 68, remains politically influential and his United Malays National Organization party has rebounded after his shocking electoral ouster in 2018.

UMNO returned to government in March 2020 as part of a new coalition that seized power from the reformist government that won the 2018 elections. In August, UMNO took over the post of prime minister after he was elected. one of its leaders has been appointed the country’s new prime minister following a power struggle.

Defense lawyers argue that Najib was denied a fair trial because the High Court judge made “serious managerial errors” during the trial. Najib said he was unaware of the CBC money going into his bank accounts and that he had been misled by Malaysian fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.

But the judge said that Najib’s argument that he was tricked by Low into believing the money was part of a donation from the Saudi royal family – to prevent Najib from being wary of the looting of 1MDB – was far fetched and weak workmanship. Investigators identified Low as the mastermind behind the 1MDB looting and he is still at large.

Najib faces a total of 42 charges in five separate trials, some of which are pending. His wife is also on trial for corruption.

The Associated Press






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