Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak has been found guilty of all seven charges in the first of several multi-million dollar corruption trials.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering, and abuse of power.
The case was widely seen as a test of Malaysia’s rule of law and anti-corruption efforts.
The scandal around Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund has uncovered a worldwide web of fraud and corruption.
“After considering all evidence during this trial, I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond an inexpensive doubt,” judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali told the Kuala Lumpur supreme court.
What were the accusations?
Tuesday’s verdicts centered on 42 million ringgit ($10m, £7.7m) transferred from the fund to the then-prime minister’s private accounts.
Najib, who was in office from 2009 to 2018, denies all wrongdoing and says he was misled by financial advisors – especially fugitive financier Jho Low.
Jho Low has been charged in both the US and Malaysia, but also maintains his innocence.
Najib’s defense team argued he was led to believe the funds in his accounts were donated by the Saudi royalty – instead of misappropriated from the state fund.
The charges carry the maximum amount as 15 to twenty years in prison each. Before the decision, Najib said he would appeal if found guilty.
What is the 1MDB scandal?
The 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund was found out in 2009, when Najib Razak as prime minister, to spice up the country’s economic development.
In 2015, questions were raised around its activities after it missed payments owed to banks and bondholders.
Malaysian and US authorities allege that $4.5bn was illicitly plundered from the fund and diverted into private pockets.
The missing money has been linked to luxury land, a personal jet, van Gogh and Monet artworks – and even a Hollywood blockbuster, the Wolf of Wall Street.
Last week, US bank Goldman Sachs reached a $3.9bn (£3bn) settlement with the Malaysian government for its role within the multi-billion-dollar corruption scheme.
The deal resolved charges in Malaysia that the bank misled investors when it helped raise $6.5bn for 1MDB.
What else is Najib accused of?
The former prime minister was cleared of all allegations by Malaysian authorities while he was still in office.
Yet the accusations played an enormous part in his election defeat in 2018 – and therefore the new government swiftly reopened investigations into the 1MDB case.
While Tuesday’s verdict is that the first of his trials to be decided, it’s not the foremost significant one.
A separate trial that began last August looks at accusations the previous prime minister illicitly obtained 2.28bn ringgit ($550m, £448m) from 1MDB between 2011 and 2014.
He is facing 21 counts of money-laundering and 4 of abuse of power but again, denies any wrongdoing.
His wife, Rosmah Mansor, also faces money-laundering and evasion charges, to which she has pleaded acquitted.
Source: bbc news