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Malaysian court upholds ex-premier Najib’s graft conviction

Putrajaya, December 8

Malaysia’s Appeal Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak linked to the massive looting of the 1MDB state investment fund that brought down his government in 2018.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail after a high court ruled in July 2020 that he was guilty of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering for illegally receiving 42 million ringgit ($9.9 million) from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

The ruling by the three-member appellate bench was delivered via a Zoom hearing after a defence lawyer was suspected to have contracted Covid.

“All in all, we find the conviction safe,” said Appeal Court judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil. “We dismiss the appeal…and affirm the conviction by the High Court on all seven charges.”

Najib, who looked sombre when the verdict was read out, can still challenge the decision in the Federal Court, the country’s top court. The appellate court approved the defence’s request to stay the conviction pending a final appeal. Najib will remain out on bail until then.

Najib, who set up 1MDB shortly after taking office in 2009, has denied all wrongdoing and said the charges against him were political. He has just returned from Singapore, after the court approved his request earlier to travel to be with his daughter who has just given birth.

Despite his graft conviction, Najib, 68, remains politically influential and his United Malays National Organisation party has rebounded from its 2018 shocking election ouster. AP

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