Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak discovered responsible of corruption

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Judge Nazlan ordered the defence to move directly to mitigation. Mr Shafee then told the court his client had gone through a series of punishments already and that if he was at fault, it was only of “trusting the people that ought to run the company – both at 1MDB and SRC”.

But prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram on Tuesday night said the sentence must also be a deterrent. “Corruption is widespread in this country and must not be tolerated. Punishment must be paramount.”

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Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak found guilty of corruption

About Malaysian
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The guilty verdict is a huge boost for anti-corruption crusaders around the country and its impact on Malaysia’s complex and fluid national politics will play out for years. In the near term, though, observers say, it could assist Najib’s party, which is already well on its way to clawing back power after an historic election defeat in 2018.

Najib ruled Malaysia from 2009 to 2018 and helped co-found 1MDB. The objective was to attract foreign investment and help lay the foundation for generations of prosperity. Instead, billions of dollars were siphoned off in what then US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions in 2017 described as “kleptocracy at its worst”. The Malaysian people will be paying off related debts for years.

Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak found guilty of corruption

No proof of Saudi donations

During the SRC trial, Najib’s lawyers told the court the former prime minister believed the $13.8 million that landed in his account came from the Saudi royal family and he had been misled by Malaysian financier Jho Low and others involved with 1MDB. Mr Low has continually denied any wrongdoing and maintains his innocence.

Judge Nazlan rejected this defence, noting there was no proof of any donations from the Saudi government and no mention of such by the late King Abdullah.

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“In my view, even at this juncture, when the accused was told of the impending donation from Jho Low, the accused should have taken steps to verify and adduce proof of the information,” Judge Nazlan said.

“There were no details about the donations or whether it would come with conditions. Is it foreign aid, a grant or a loan? The accused could have picked up his mobile and communicated especially with his foreign affairs minister or the Saudi ambassador. Instead the accused, as PM, accepted a simple confirmation from Jho Low.”

Najib faces dozens of other charges related to the alleged theft of $US4.5 billion ($6.3 billion) from 1MDB. The stink and sheer scale of the scandal helped sweep him from power in May 2018. The election result was a historic defeat for his United Malaysia National Organisation party and a victory for veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad’s Pakatan Harapan coalition.

After the election, Malaysian authorities moved quickly to stop Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor from leaving the country and seized cash and valuables in a series of spectacular raids. Evidence gathered helped prosecutors take action resulting in five separate trials against the former prime minister.

The finding will boost the popularity of Mr Muhyiddin as prime minister because he has managed to prove justice was blind under his rule.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi, University of Malaya

But even as Najib and Ms Mansor – who has been charged with manipulating an electricity tender for personal gain and money laundering – and their representatives made dozens of court appearances, the winning coalition’s fragile unity started to fray.

The main fault line was the undertaking between two long-term political rivals – Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim – in which Dr Mahathir agreed to hand over power two years after the election. As the months went by, Dr Mahathir started to drift away from the undertaking, while his supporters noted there was no written document to support the agreement.

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In February this year the Pakatan Harapan coalition that Dr Mahathir had led to victory collapsed. After a week of scheming, as the various political groupings tried to sign up sufficient numbers of MPs to convince King Sultan Abdullah they could form government, Dr Mahathir’s former ally, Muhyiddin Yassin, joined forces with UMNO to get over the line in a deal that effectively put UMNO back in power in a political alliance with various other parties.

UMNO’s president and deputy president were with Najib at Kuala Lumpur’s High Court on Tuesday.

The verdict drew a predictably mixed reaction. Najib’s vocal supporters were downcast, while MPs who had campaigned for his prosecution were jubilant.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi from the University of Malaya noted the verdict would aid the current ruling alliance, but was also unlikely to damage Najib’s considerable support and influence among conservative Malays.

“The finding will boost the popularity of Mr Muhyiddin as prime minister because he has managed to prove justice was blind under his rule. But if the Muafakat Nasional [UMNO and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party] wins the next election, then UMNO will appoint the prime minister from within UMNO,” Mr Awang said.

Since his fall from power, 95-year-old Dr Mahathir’s various plans to topple Mr Muhyiddin have failed, but he continues to weigh in. As the court prepared to deliver his verdict, Dr Mahathir castigated the government for the settlement reached with Goldman Sachs last week for the investment bank’s role in helping to raise funds for 1MDB.

Dr Mahathir tweeted: “The total amount that should be due is $US6.9 billion. What Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay is $US2.5 billion. That is very much less than they should pay.”

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