1MDB scandal: former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak before the court of appeal

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Putrajaya | Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appeared before Malaysia’s Court of Appeal on Monday to challenge his 12-year prison sentence for corruption in the massive 1MDB scandal.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur also fined the 67-year-old former leader last summer of 210 million ringgits (42 million euros) after finding him guilty of seven counts in the fraud. of several billion dollars with planetary ramifications.

Najib Razak was accused of having, with his relatives, looted the sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), supposed to contribute to the economic development of Malaysia.

On Monday, the ex-leader declined to comment upon his arrival at the Malaysian Court of Appeal, which is in the administrative capital Putrajaya.

“There has been a total and unprecedented violation of the principle of a fair trial,” Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, one of the defense lawyers, told the court. “It’s a mess that must be resolved.”

According to him, the judge at the first trial did not have sufficient experience in such cases. This point alone should be enough, he said, for “the court to overturn the first judgment”.

Najib Razak was allowed to remain free on bail until the end of the appeal process.

Malaysians’ anger over this looting played a big role in the surprise electoral defeat in 2018 of the coalition led by Najib Razak, who has led the government since 2009.

The first trial in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, which lasted sixteen months, involved the transfer of 42 million ringgits (8.4 million euros) from SRC International, a fund entity, to Najib’s bank accounts Razak.

The latter had 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.

His lawyers will develop during his appeal trial, which will last until April 22, the thesis according to which Najib Razak had no knowledge of the transactions in the direction of his accounts.

His lawyers 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 prosecuted in Malaysia and the United States, remains untraceable but has protested his innocence through his lawyers.

If he loses his appeal, Mr. Najib will still be able to seize the highest Malaysian court.

Najib Razak’s party regained power in March 2020 after the fall of a reformist coalition.

Some had feared that the alternation would affect the outcome of the trial, as had seemed to predict the dropping of the charges against Riza Aziz, the son-in-law of the former prime minister, as part of an agreement with Crown.

The embezzlement judged in the first trial of Najib Razak are modest compared to those targeted by his second trial, the most important, which involves more than 500 million dollars.