Malaysia’s Najib guilty of all charges in 1MDB-linked graft case
Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at court on Tuesday morning. A judge found him guilty on all seven counts [Ted Regencia/Al Jazeera]
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been found guilty of all seven charges of corruption in the first of several cases linked to the alleged theft of billions of dollars from state fund 1MDB, becoming the first Malaysian leader to be found guilty of graft.
Judge Mohd Nazlan Ghazali said the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubt over Najib’s role in diverting an estimated 42 million ringgit ($9.8m today) from SRC International, a unit of 1MDB, into his personal bank accounts.
“I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I therefore find accused guilty and convict the accused on all seven charges,” he said, referring to the allegations of abuse of power, and several counts of money laundering and criminal breach of trust.
At one point during the reading of the verdict, Judge Mohd Nazlan said that 67-year-old Najib, who also held the post of finance minister, “acted outside the limits of the permissible conduct” in the approval of loans, which later became a source of funds transferred to his account.
He said Najib “benefited” from the approval of the loans, and that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubt over the offence of abuse of power – the first of the seven charges.
The former prime minister faces decades in jail, as well as hefty fines, following his conviction. Although the charges also carry a sentence of whipping, Najib is likely to be spared the cane given his age.
The decision comes just six days after the High Court ordered Najib to pay the government as much as 1.69 billion ringgit ($400m) in unpaid taxes and penalties, covering the years from 2011 to 2017.
Tony Pua, an opposition MP who played a key role in exposing the scandal at 1MDB, welcomed the decision on SRC.
“After months of depressing news when the mandate of the people in 2018 was robbed by those who betrayed their trust, today, Malaysians look to celebrate as the judiciary demonstrates its teeth and impartiality,” Pua told Al Jazeera. “It’s not over yet, but it’s a big, big step in the right direction.”
Supporters throng court
Ahead of the verdict on Tuesday, hundreds of Najib’s supporters gathered outside the court to show their backing for the embattled politician, who was once considered the country’s most powerful man.
As news of the convictions rippled through the crowd, they condemned the judge’s verdict as “political vengeance”.
Several of his supporters waiting outside shouted, “Long live my boss”, as some of them openly cried upon hearing the the verdict.
In court, as the judge said he wanted to proceed with sentencing, the defence team pushed for a delay until Monday. The judge is expected to decide on the postponement of the sentencing on Tuesday afternoon, although he earlier indicated that it is “not common” to defer the sentencing.
The conviction was quickly trending across social media, where many welcomed the judge’s decision.