(C) Reuters. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak walks out of a courtroom for a break at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur
By Rozanna Latiff
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s Court of Appeal on Monday will begin hearing a bid by former prime minister Najib Razak to set aside his conviction on corruption charges in a case linked to a multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB.
Najib, who was voted out in a historic 2018 election, faces several trials over allegations that $4.5 billion was stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state fund he co-founded in 2009. He has plead not guilty to all charges.
Last year, Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail and a $50 million fine after being found guilty of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering for illegally receiving about $10 million from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.
The sentences were stayed pending an appeal.
Defence lawyers are set to argue on Monday that the trial judge had erred in dismissing evidence showing that Najib was misled by Malaysian financier Jho Low and other 1MDB officials into believing that the funds in his account were a donation from the Saudi royal family, according to documents submitted to the court ahead of the hearing.
Low, whose whereabouts is unknown, has denied wrongdoing.
“(Najib) had no knowledge of the 42 million ringgit transactions into his account or knowledge that the same were from the account of SRC,” the documents seen by Reuters said.
Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee, a lawyer for Najib, confirmed that the documents were filed last month.
The court has fixed 12 days between April 5 and 22 to hear the appeal.
Prosecutors have said more than $1 billion of 1MDB funds made its way into Najib’s personal accounts, over which he faces a total of 42 criminal charges.
At least six countries have opened investigations into 1MDB, in a globe-spanning scandal that has implicated high-level officials and major financial institutions.
In recent months, Malaysia has recovered more than $3 billion from U.S. bank Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), audit firm Deloitte, and Malaysian banking group AmBank in separate deals to settle claims linked to 1MDB probes.
($1 = 4.1440 ringgit)
Malaysia’s ex-PM Najib starts appeal against 1MDB-linked conviction, jail sentence
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