Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been ordered to begin a 12-year prison sentence following the failure of his final appeal against a conviction linked to the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal.
Najib had denied any involvement in illegal activity in relation to the scandal, which was one of the world’s largest ever financial frauds. The 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a state fund set up to promote development, saw billions of dollars illegally siphoned off.
Najib had been found guilty of breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering in July 2020, with the court ruling he had received approximately $10 million in illegal payments. The former prime minister avoided serving his sentence immediately and was allowed to remain free pending his appeal.
The 69-year-old saw his last chance of avoiding prison struck down though, as a five-member federal court panel said it unanimously found Najib’s appeal “devoid of any merits”.
Chief justice Maimun Tuan Mat said the defense was “so inherently inconsistent and incredible that it does not raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution case”. Najib had launched his appeal on the basis that his right to a fair trial had been denied.
It is currently unclear exactly when Najib, who was photographed being driven away in a black car, will start his sentence. His daughter-in-law Nur Sharmila Shaheen told reporters the family had been informed that he was sent to Kajang prison, south of Kuala Lumpur.
Najib becomes the first ex-PM in Malaysia’s history to serve a prison sentence.