Crime & Justice

First trial concludes against ex-PM in Malaysia corruption scandal

Bangkok, June 5 (efe-epa).- The first corruption trial against a former Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, in connection with the embezzlement of the 1MDB state fund, concluded on Friday.

The 1MDB scandal is believed to be one of the biggest cases of institutional corruption in the world.

Following the mandatory break owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the court resumed hearings on Jun. 2 and concluded Friday with the final statements of the defense and the prosecution.

The verdict date has been set for July 28, according to court officials.

This first case, the trial of which began on Apr.3, 2019, revolves around three transfers totaling 42 million ringgit ($10 million) from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB, to Najib’s private accounts.

The former prime minister faces three charges of money laundering, three of abuse of trust, and another abuse of power.

Najib has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and incriminated Malaysian investor Jho Low, seen as close to Najib, and considered a key person in the diversion of money from the fund.

According to Najib, several circumstances led him to believe that Jho Low had links with the Saudi royal family and the funds deposited in their accounts came from a donation from King Abdullah, who died in 2015.

Low, who is wanted by Malaysian and American authorities, is unaccounted for and has denied any crime through a law firm representing him.

Najib, the son, and nephew of two former Malaysian leaders came to power in 2009 riding on a promise of modernizing the country and carrying out structural reforms that would ensure economic growth.

Four months after being sworn in as prime minister, Najib founded 1MDB and kept it under his charge, to attract foreign investment and create a financial district in Kuala Lumpur.

However, he became the central figure of a journalistic investigation published in 2015 that uncovered the disappearance of enormous sums of money from 1MDB and claimed that Najib diverted 2.6 billion ringgit ($681 million at the time) to private accounts.

The corruption charges led to Najib’s downfall in the 2018 general elections, and he faces a total of 42 charges including money laundering and abuse of power.

The United States Justice Department has estimated that the total amount of money embezzled from the fund reached $4.5 billion, of which around $1 billion were laundered inside the country through the purchase of the luxury real estate, yachts, jewelry, and artworks. EFE-EPA


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