Malaysia's Najib sentenced to over a decade in jail in first 1MDB graft trial

Mohd RASFAN / AFP

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been sentenced to 12 years in jail in the first trial linked to the multibillion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

The 67-year-old leader was also handed 10 years in jail on each of three charges of criminal breach of trust and three charges of money laundering for illegally receiving nearly $10 million from SRC International, a former unit of the state fund.

"After considering all evidence in this trial, I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt," Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali said.

Najib faced seven 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 pleaded 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.

The former prime minister, who was voted out in a historic 2018 election, still faces multiple criminal charges over allegations that $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB.

Prosecutors allege more than $1 billion of the funds made its way into his personal accounts.

Najib's lawyers say he was misled by Malaysian financier Jho Low and other 1MDB officials into believing that the funds banked into his accounts were donated by the Saudi royal family, rather than misappropriated from SRC as prosecutors have alleged. Low denies wrongdoing.

Allegations of corruption over 1MDB have hung over Najib for more than five years. But the criminal charges came only after his defeat in the 2018 election when his successor Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations.

The closely-watched 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.

The court's decision comes just days after Malaysia reached a $3.9 billion deal with Goldman Sachs over its role in helping 1MDB raise money. 

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