“After considering all evidence in this trial, I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond a resonable doubt,” Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali said
1MDB scandal by the numbers -
- $4.5 billion -The amount prosecutors alleged was siphoned from 1MDB
- 42 - Criminal charges faced by Najib for his role in the state fund
- 50 billion ringgit - That's about $11.7 billion, the amount of 1MDB's debt at the height of its borrowing spree
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was found guilty on Tuesday on all seven corruption charges in his first trial linked to a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The landmark case has been widely seen as a test for the country's efforts to stamp out corruption and could have big political implications for the Southeast Asian nation.
"After considering all evidence in this trial, I find that the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond a resonable doubt," Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali said.
Najib faced seven charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power for allegedly illegally receiving nearly $10 million from former 1MDB unit SRC International. He had plead not guilty.
Each of the charges carry hefty fines and jail terms of up to 15 or 20 years. Najib's lawyers are seeking a delay in sentencing. Najib has said he would appeal any decision at the federal court.
The former prime minister, who was voted out in a historic 2018 election, still faces multiple criminal charges over allegations that $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB.
Prosecutors allege more than $1 billion of the funds made its way into his personal accounts.
The former premier arrived in court to shouts of "long live Najib" by hundreds of supporters who had gathered outside.
Wearing a mask and flanked by top leaders of his party, Najib offered prayers just outside the courtroom.
Najib's lawyers say he was misled by Malaysian financier Jho Low and other 1MDB officials into believing that the funds banked into his accounts were donated by the Saudi royal family, rather than misappropriated from SRC as prosecutors have alleged. Low denies wrongdoing.
Allegations of corruption over 1MDB have hung over Najib for more than five years. But the criminal charges came only after his defeat in the 2018 election when his successor Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations.
The closely-watched case is seen as a test of Malaysia's efforts to root out corruption, after Najib's party was returned to power in February as part of an alliance led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
The verdict could have far reaching political implications.
The guilty verdict could boost Muhyiddin's credibility with the public, but weaken his coalition, which counts Najib's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) as its biggest component - and potentially trigger snap polls.
The court's decision comes just days after Malaysia reached a $3.9 billion deal with Goldman Sachs over its role in helping 1MDB raise money.
WHAT IS 1MDB?
1MDB was a sovereign fund set up in 2009 with the help of Malaysian financier Jho Low to promote economic development.
Najib chaired its advisory board until 2016.
HOW DID BILLIONS GO MISSING?
1MDB raised billions of dollars in bonds for use in investment projects and joint ventures between 2009 and 2013.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said $4.5 billion was diverted to offshore bank accounts and shell companies, many linked to Low.
Malaysian authorities say at least $4.3 billion more is unaccounted for.
The funds siphoned off were used to buy luxury assets and real estate for Low and his associates, including a private jet, a superyacht, hotels, and artwork by Picasso and Monet, U.S. lawsuits said.
Some of the money was allegedly used to finance Hollywood films including 2013's "The Wolf of Wall Street", produced by Red Granite, a film company co-founded by Najib's stepson, Riza Aziz.
Malaysian prosecutors withdrew money laundering charges against Riza in May after reaching a $107.3 million settlement.
HOW WAS NAJIB INVOLVED?
Authorities say Najib illegally received more than $1 billion traceable to 1MDB.
Najib, voted out in a 2018 election amid public anger over the scandal, has plead not guilty to 42 criminal charges over losses at 1MDB and other state entities.
Defence lawyers say he was misled by Low and that the funds in his accounts were donations from the Saudi royal family.
Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, has also been charged with money laundering and bribery. She has pleaded not guilty.
HOW ARE AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATING 1MDB?
At least six countries, including Singapore and Switzerland, have launched money laundering, financial mismanagement and criminal investigations into 1MDB dealings.
The DoJ struck a deal in November to recoup $1 billion from the sale of seized assets linked to Low, a record haul for a U.S. anti-corruption probe.
Malaysia had also accused Goldman Sachs of misleading investors over three bond sales totalling $6.5 billion that the U.S. bank helped raise for 1MDB. Goldman had pleaded not guilty and consistently denied wrongdoing.
This week, Goldman agreed to settle the dispute for $3.9 billion with Malaysia, which will drop all criminal charges against the bank.
Here's a timeline of developments at 1MDB:
- Three months after taking over as prime minister, Najib launches the 1MDB sovereign fund to invest in energy, real estate and other industries.
1MDB signs a deal with PetroSaudi International to set up a joint venture company and invests $1bn cash for a 40 percent stake. PetroSaudi, backed by oil and gas assets said to be worth $1.5bn, takes 60 percent in the business.
Najib launches the Tun Razak Exchange, built by 1MDB as a new financial district for Kuala Lumpur. Najib tells invited guests the first phase of the development will bring in RM3.5b ($856.8m) in direct foreign investments.
May and October
US investment bank Goldman Sachs helps 1MDB sell bonds worth $3.5bn to raise money to buy power assets.
Goldman Sachs helps 1MDB raise a further $3bn in an additional bond sale, this time to cover "new strategic economic initiatives" between Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.
The "Wolf of Wall Street", with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, is released in the United States. The $100m film was produced by Red Granite Pictures, a newcomer co-founded by Najib's stepson Riza Aziz. The end credits included a thank you to Jho Low, a young Malaysian financier.
- 1MDB, with debt burdens rising, misses a loan payment of about $550 million.
– Malaysia forms special task force - including officials from central bank, police, anti-grant agency and the attorney general's chambers - to look into 1MDB.
- The Wall Street Journal reports nearly $700 million of 1MDB money went into Najib's personal bank account.
- Malaysia's anti-graft agency says the money deposited into Najib's account was a donation, not from 1MDB.
- Swiss authorities open criminal proceedings linked to 1MDB, saying the case involves suspected corruption of public foreign officials, dishonest management of public interests and money laundering.
- Malaysia's Attorney General clears Najib of any wrongdoing, saying $681 million in Najib's account was a donation from a member of the Saudi royal family and that Najib had returned $620 million in a few months.
- A Malaysian parliamentary inquiry team slams the board of 1MDB for being irresponsible and urges a probe into its former chief. 1MDB board resigns.
- The US Department of Justice files civil lawsuits seeking to seize assets bought with money allegedly stolen from 1MDB, saying that over $3.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund.
- The lawsuits say $681 million from a 2013 bond sale by 1MDB was transferred to the account of "Malaysian Official 1", whom US and Malaysian officials later identify as Najib.
- Red Granite, the company behind the 2013 film, "The Wolf of Wall Street", agrees to pay the US government $60 million to settle a civil lawsuit that sought to seize assets allegedly bought with money stolen from 1MDB.
- The Justice Department says more than $4.5 billion was siphoned from 1MDB by high-level fund officials and their associates.
- US Justice Department says conducting a criminal probe into 1MDB.
- The US attorney general describes the 1MDB scandal as "kleptocracy at its worst".
- Najib unexpectedly loses election to Mahathir, who immediately reopens probe into 1MDB.
- Authorities bar Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, from leaving the country. The couple's houses are subject to police investigations and Najib gives a statement to anti-graft agency.
- Prime Minister Mahathir says embezzlement and bribery with government money are among the charges that Malaysia is looking to bring against Najib. He also says investigators have an "almost perfect case" against the former leader.
- Police say nearly $275 million of assets found at properties linked to Najib, including 12,000 pieces of jewelery, more than 500 handbags, more than 400 watches and nearly $30 million in cash.
- Authorities say bank accounts belonging to Najib's political party frozen as part of 1MDB probe.
- Authorities say over 400 bank accounts frozen, including those of 81 individuals and 55 companies believed to have received funds from 1MDB.
- Authorities arrest Najib.
Najib appears in the Kuala Lumpur High Court on April 3 to face seven charges in relating to SRC International, a unit of 1MDB, in the first of a series of trials relating to the failed fund.
Malaysia announces it has completed the sale of Equanimity, the $250 million superyacht allegedly bought with money diverted from 1MDB.
Najib goes on trial in Kuala Lumpur in the biggest of his five 1MDB-linked trials. The lead prosecutor told the court that Najib had carried out an "elaborate charade" that was acted out in four phases. "His objective was to enrich himself," Gopal Sri Ram said.
After being told to enter his defence in the SRC trial, Najib takes to the witness box in his own defence, reading from a prepared statement.
A power grab within the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition triggers the resignation of Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister. After a week of uncertainty, the king names Muhyiddin Yassin to the top job saying he has a majority in parliament. The manoeuvring returns UMNO, where Najib remains influential, to government.
Malaysian prosecutors agree a $107.3 million settlement with Riza Aziz, and drop money laundering charges against the former prime minister's stepson.
Malaysia reaches a $3.9bn settlement with US investment bank Goldman Sachs, agreeing to drop its criminal investigation into the bank's role in the 1MDB scandal.