Malaysia: Top Court Upholds Former PM Najib’s Graft Conviction
Here are the key facts of this story, as agreed upon by Reuters, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Guardian, and Daily Caller.
- Najib faces four other trials involving dozens of charges including, abuse of power, money laundering, and tampering with a 1MDB audit report.
- On Tues., Malaysia’s five-member Federal Court panel unanimously dismissed former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s final appeal in a graft case connected to the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fraud scandal.
- This means that Najiband — who was immediately transferred to Kajang Prison, near Kuala Lumpur to begin serving his 12-year sentence — is the country’s first former PM to be jailed. He will also have to pay a $47M fine.
- In July 2020, he was found guilty on charges of abuse of power, breach of trust, and money laundering after illegally receiving $10M from a former unit of 1MDB, a sovereign development fund he created in 2009 upon assuming office.
- 1MDB raised billions of dollars between 2009 and 2013, for use in investment projects and other joint ventures. But at least $4.5B was allegedly redirected to offshore accounts and shell companies, many connected to Malaysian fugitive financier Jho Low, according to the US Dept. of Justice.
- Najib was voted out in the 2018 election amid heavy criticism for his role in the 1MDB scandal. He was arrested two months later.
And these are the key narratives that have emerged for this story:
- Establishment-critical narrative as provided by Journal Star. This decision was unfair as the court rejected his application to change his legal counsel, denied his request for an extension of time to properly prepare his case, and threw out his call for a retrial. The judiciary seemingly wasn’t neutral; a pardon should be considered.
- Pro-establishment narrative as provided by The Washington Post. Although this verdict may not signal that corruption has come to an end in the country, Najib’s conviction carries an invigorating message to the Malaysian people that nobody is above the law, not even a former Prime Minister.