Why Malaysia Sent Ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak To Jail

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was sent to prison on Tuesday August 23 to serve a 12-year sentence. His latest appeal was rejected by a bench of five judges in Malaysia’s highest court. He was accused of embezzling public funds worth Rs 4.5 billion for his personal uses like buying a yacht, a Picasso painting, jewelry and producing a movie Hollywood.

He is the son of former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein and also the first ex-Prime Minister in the world to serve a prison sentence. He is the chairman of his political party, United Malaysia National Organization (UMNO) and served as Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2009 to 2018.

What was the bribery case? Popularly known as the biggest case of kleptocracy in the world, the Razak corruption scandal is a story of Hollywood celebrities, Malaysian politicians, luxury yachts, the power of Picasso paintings and a large amount of stolen money. .

In 2020, he was found guilty of using public funds valued at nearly $4.5 billion from the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The 1MDB fund was launched to help the country attract foreign investment. Instead, the money was used by his family for the next five years.

Najib Razak’s Superyacht. Photo: AFP

The scandal began in 2009 when Razak became Prime Minister of Malaysia. Billions of dollars were drawn or laundered through subsidiaries by those who ran them.

It is alleged that almost a quarter of the stolen money was deposited in Razak’s personal bank account. His wife, Rosmah Mansour, also generously spent this money. His financial adviser Jho Low, a friend of Najib’s son-in-law, Riza Aziz, also spent much of this money for his personal use.

He allegedly siphoned off funds, used them to buy land in prime real estate in Manhattan, a superyacht, jewelry worth $8.1 million, a glass piano for Australian model Miranda Kerr, a painting by Picasso and an Oscar statuette for Leonardo DiCaprio. He also invested in the Hollywood Movie”the wolf of Wall Streetand hosted lavish parties attended by Hollywood stars like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Foxx.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in 2016 that “a number of corrupt 1MDB officials were treating this trust like a personal bank account.”

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Photo: Reuters

Where is Jho Low? Although Razak is found guilty and imprisoned, his financial adviser Jho Low remains at large. Low went into hiding in 2018 after Razak lost the election. Many believe he is in China but he has not yet been found by the Malaysian authorities.

Najib exposed and looted: The scandal was revealed in 2015 by a British journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown. She wrote about it on her website titled “The Sarawak ReportNajib secured an arrest warrant issued for Rewcastle Brown, fired the attorney general who was investigating 1MDB, removed all anti-corruption officers in the case, and placed the report under the Official Secrets Act.

A subsequent investigation, seen as a deliberate attempt to whitewash his image, was ordered by Razak. The inquest cleared him of all charges.

When his properties were raided in 2018, police seized:

  • Luxury goods worth Rs 273 million
  • 1400 necklaces
  • 567 designer buildings
  • 423 watches
  • 2,200 rings
  • 1600 pins
  • 14 tiaras

It is the largest police seizure in Malaysian history.

Najib Razak talks about political conspiracy: Throughout his 2018 trial until his 2020 sentencing, Razak claimed to be innocent. He called his incarceration a political conspiracy in every respect.

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