Malaysian Ex-PM Najib Razak Goes to Jail After Losing Final Appeal

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak started serving a 12-year prison term after a higher court rejected his appeal.

The 69-year-old was sentenced to over a decade behind bars in connection with a corruption scandal concerning the state-owned wealth fund IMalaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr. Najib was accused of being involved in the RM42 million scam, which is equivalent to $9.4 million. The huge sum was transferred from the 1MDB former unit SRC International to his private bank accounts.

The former prime minister has denied the charges. However, a Malaysian court found him guilty on seven counts, sentencing him to 12 years in prison and fining him 210 million ringgit ($46.8 million).

Mr. Najib attempted to delay his sentence with an appeal, insisting that he had done no wrong. His defense team denied that he knew it was state embezzlement, as he was led to believe that the funds in his accounts had come from a donation by the Saudi royal family.

The lawyers also argued that Mr. Najib had been misled by financial advisers, including Jho Low, a fugitive businessman facing charges in both Malaysia and the United States.

On Tuesday, Mr. Najib’s lawyer asked the country’s authorities to remove Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat from the panel she presided over in the case against his client. The legal representative argued that the official could be biased, citing a post against Mr. Najib that her husband made in 2018.

However, the move was considered an attempt to avoid the final verdict. The Chief Justice explained she declined the request because the post had been made before charges against the former prime minister were filed.

The verdict signed by Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat stated that a five-judge panel had determined that Mr. Najib’s appeal had no merits and his conviction was safe.

“The defense is so inherently inconsistent and incredible that it has not raised reasonable doubt on the case,” the verdict read.

Mr. Najib’s trial was the first of five related to 1MDB, including a case involving his wife, Rosmah Mansor, who faces charges of money laundering and tax evasion.