The Court of Appeal today upheld ex-prime minister Najib Razak’s guilty conviction and granted him a stay of execution pending his appeal to Malaysia’s highest court.
The 68-year-old remains guilty of corruption and money laundering involving the misappropriation of RM42 million (US$10 million) that was transferred into his personal bank account from SRC International, a subsidiary of the government-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad investment firm, or 1MDB. He was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined US$50 million.
In affirming the High Court’s decision, Justice Abdul Karim said that Najib was aware that the money flowing into his personal account was “from illegal and unlawful activities.” The judge also called him a “national embarrassment” when Najib tried to portray his actions as his way of serving the country.
“This is no national interest as the appellant claimed for SRC. This is a national embarrassment,” the judge said, adding that the money Najib had obtained was used for personal and political gain.
“He knew that the money was transferred into his accounts and he did not do anything about it […] He dishonestly misappropriated the money. We find no reason to disagree with the High Court. The money was for Najib directly, indirectly and, in some cases, he used the money for political reasons,” the judge said.
Last year, the High Court found Najib guilty of one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust, and three counts of money laundering as part of the first tranche of the 1MDB trial. Najib began the appeal against his conviction in April.
His defense team, led by lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, attended today’s hearing via video call while serving quarantine. They have been identified as close contacts of COVID-19 patients.
They argued that Najib had no knowledge of the money going into his accounts or that it had originated from SRC. They claimed that Najib was being scammed by financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, who they have accused of tricking Najib into believing that the funds were donated by a Saudi royal family.
Najib is taking his case to the Federal Court.
Najib Razak heading to court for his appeal in April 2021. Photo: The Star/YouTube