(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was sentenced on Tuesday to 11 years in prison in his first corruption trial, a decision he plans to appeal, two years after his government fell in the resounding 1MDB scandal.
France Media Agency
The High Court of Kuala Lumpur also sentenced the former leader of 56 to a fine of 210 million ringgits (56 million CAN $) after finding him guilty of seven counts in this multi-billion dollar fraud with planetary ramifications.
Najib Razak was accused of having, with his relatives, looted the sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), supposed to contribute to the economic development of Malaysia.
Part of the embezzled funds would have been used to finance the film The Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio, while Goldman Sachs bank was splashed by the case.
“I regret the court ruling, but we will appeal,” the former prime minister told reporters. “It's not the end of the world, I believe in my innocence,” he insisted as hundreds of his angry supporters chanted “Long live Najib!” At the exit of the High Court.
Najib Razak will be allowed to remain free on bail until the end of the appeal process.
Malaysians' anger against this plunder played a big role in the surprise electoral defeat in 2018 of the coalition led by Najib Razak, who had been running the government since 2009.
The ruling was greeted as good news for the rule of law in Malaysia, as Najib Razak's party regained power in March after the fall of a reformist coalition.
Some feared that the alternation would affect the outcome of this trial, as the abandonment of the charges against Riza Aziz, the son-in-law of the former prime minister and one of the producers of Wolf of Wall Street , under an agreement with the prosecution.
The government “respects the decision” of the High Court and invites the Malaysians to “have complete confidence in the justice system and to consider this institution as free and independent”, reacted Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
A position that could earn him “the support of those who wanted to see (applied) justice in this case”, said to AFP Bridget Welsh, a specialist in Malaysia at the University of Nottingham. The head of government has thus profiled himself as someone who “puts the country ahead of politics”.
The Alliance “The Pact of Hope”, led by Anwar Ibrahim, who helped oust Najib Razak, hailed the verdict, seeing it as “a huge victory for the Malaysians. “
This first trial before the High Court of Kuala Lumpur, which lasted 12 on the transfer of 42 million ringgits (12, CAN $ 2 million) from SRC International, a fund entity, to Najib Razak's bank accounts.
The latter systematically rejected all the accusations and declared that he ignored the transactions carried out by SRC.
But the judge found him guilty of all seven counts of abuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering.
Najib Razak remained calm, tilting his head after the verdict was read. His lawyers have presented the former prime minister as a victim, pointing to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho as the main culprit and “mastermind” of the looting.
Also nicknamed Jho Low, the man sued in Malaysia and the United States, cannot be found but has protested his innocence through his lawyers.
The embezzlement judged in the first trial of Najib Razak are modest compared to those targeted by his second trial, the most important, which concerns more than 500 millions of dollars.
Malaysia had accused Goldman Sachs and several of its officials of allowing the hijackings by organizing a bond issue of 6.5 billion dollars for 1MDB.
But on Friday, Malaysia reached a $ 3.9 billion deal to end the lawsuits against the Wall Street giant.