July 28, 2020 10:15:32 am
A Malaysia court has ruled former prime minister Najib Razak guilty in the first verdict to come in the series of trials linked to 1MDB.
Najib was guilty Tuesday of one count of abuse of power in the case involving 42 million ringgit ($10 million) of funds deposited in his personal accounts from a former unit of 1MDB. The decision on the other charges against Najib are still being read out in the court in Kuala Lumpur. He has earlier said he plans to appeal the judgment.
High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali told the court he found “the defense has not succeeded in rebutting the presumption on the balance of probabilities or raising reasonable doubt on the charge against the accused.”
The verdict comes days after Malaysia resolved settlement talks with Goldman Sachs over the bank’s role in raising funds for 1MDB during Najib’s time as prime minister. Goldman agreed on a $3.9 billion settlement, including $2.5 billion in cash, in return for all its charges being dropped.
Prosecutors questioned dozens of witnesses over months to build a case that showed Najib’s “pervasive and imperious” role in SRC International Sdn., the former unit of 1MDB, the judge said in November. The former leader had testified that he acted in the best interests of the country and consulted the cabinet and 1MDB executives at every step of the way, while his lawyers argued that he had been misled by others, including fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.
The verdict comes two years since the charges were announced against Najib, who at the time had just been ousted from power on a wave of public anger over the 1MDB scandal and rising living costs. Since then, the administration that first brought him to book has been replaced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government, which counts on the backing of a party once led by Najib.
The trial is only the first of at least three involving Najib, who faces dozens more corruption and money-laundering charges, including those linked to billion-dollar acquisitions and bond sales by the scandal-ridden fund.