Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak was acquitted on Friday in the latest trial in response to the multi-billion dollar looting of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad State Fund.
Najib, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence after losing his first appeal in several corruption trials linked to the 1MDB scandal, was found not guilty on charges of tampering with an audit report to cover up wrongdoing.
Defense lawyer Mohammad Shafi Abdullah said the High Court ruled that prosecutors did not have enough evidence to convict Najib of abusing his position as prime minister and finance minister, so that the charges were tabled in parliament. May order amendments to 1MDB audit report in 2016 before leaving.
“My client is very grateful to Allah for today’s verdict because it really boosted his spirit and his will to fight for his innocence,” Shafi told a news conference on Friday.
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The 1MDB development fund was established in 2009, months after Najib became prime minister. Investigators allege that more than US$4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and laundered by Najib’s associates through layers of bank accounts in the United States and other countries to finance Hollywood films. extravagant purchases that included hotels, a luxury yacht, art and jewelry. Over USD 700 million came into Najib’s bank accounts.
He and his wife, Rosmah Mansour, were facing multiple corruption charges following the saga following the shock defeat of their ruling coalition in the 2018 general elections. Rosmah was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a record fine of 970 million ringgit (US$217 million) in 2022 for corruption in the solar power project and is out on bail pending an appeal.
Shafi said that financier Lo Taek Jho – who is believed to be the mastermind of the scam – remained at large.
Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, who was jointly accused of inciting Najib and appeared as a prosecution witness during the trial, was also acquitted by the court on Friday.
Shafi has said that the allegations against Najib were politically motivated. He said Najib is seeking a review of the top court’s decision in August rejecting his final appeal and is expecting a favorable outcome later this month.