A Malaysian court pronounced former Prime Minister Najib Razak guilty Tuesday in his first corruption trial over the multibillion-dollar looting of the 1MDB investment fund, the AP reports. The ruling came five months after a new government took power with Najib’s Malay party the biggest bloc in the alliance. His party’s shocking election ouster in 2018 was driven by public anger over the 1MDB scandal. “I find the accused guilty and convict the accused of all seven charges,” Judge Mohamad Nazlan Ghazali said after spending two hours reading out his ruling. Analysts said the ruling would bolster the prosecution’s case in Najib’s other trials and would signal to the business community Malaysia’s legal system has strength in tackling international financial crimes. Najib, 67, has promised to appeal. He has said he was misled by rogue bankers and the case against him is political.
A scion of one of Malaysia’s most prominent political families, he faces 42 charges in five separate trials and could face years in prison. The current trial involved a charge of abuse of power, three charges of criminal breach of trust, and three money laundering charges. Najib shortly after taking office in 2009 set up 1MDB to ostensibly accelerate Malaysia’s economic development. But the fund accumulated billions in debt, and US investigators allege that at least $4.5 billion was stolen from it and laundered by Najib’s associates to finance Hollywood films and buy hotels, a luxury yacht, artwork, jewelry, and other extravagances. More than $700 million from the fund allegedly landed in Najib’s bank accounts. Najib’s wife and several officials from his party and previous government have also been charged with graft.
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