Ex-PM ordered to prison in 1MDB scandal

Former Malaysia leader Najib Razak sentenced to 12 years on corruption conviction

Former Malaysia prime minister Najib Raza
Former Malaysia prime minister Najib Raza (Getty)

Malaysia’s former prime minister is off to prison after a failed appeal of a corruption conviction from the 1MDB embezzlement scandal.

The country’s top court this week upheld Najib Razak’s guilty conviction stemming from his role in the international money laundering scheme, Reuters reported. Upon the ruling, Najib was taken to Kajang Prison to begin his 12-year sentence.

Najib served as prime minister from 2009 to 2018 before losing a general election amid outcry stemming from the scandal. The former prime minister has denied any wrongdoing.

Investigators claim approximately $4.5 billion was stolen from the state fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, which was founded by Najib at the start of his premiership, including more than $1 billion that went to accounts tied to the politician.

The fund was designed to support development in Malaysia, but instead became a hub for corruption.

In July 2020, Najib was found guilty of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering for receiving $10 million from a 1MDB unit. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined the equivalent of $46.8 million, but has been out on bail since.

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The scandal ensnared financial institutions and high-ranking officials across the globe, leading to the seizure of high-profile assets, real estate and otherwise, in the United States and beyond.

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Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, reached a settlement with the Department of Justice in 2019 to give up claims on more than $60 million of assets allegedly acquired using money from the fund, including luxury properties in New York, Los Angeles and London.

Lawsuits also took aim at Aziz’s production company, Red Granite, as a recipient of spoils from the scandal. The company, which produced the hit movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” reached a $60 million settlement with the U.S. government in 2018 after it was accused of using $100 million in embezzled funds.

Financier Jho Low, who was at the center of the scandal, agreed in 2019 to give up claims on assets such as luxury apartments, jets, yachts and artwork that prosecutors claim he bought with stolen money. The assets were cumulatively valued between $650 million and $900 million.

Holden Walter-Warner