Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been found guilty on seven charges in the fraud and corruption trial related to the 1MDB Malaysian state investment fund. The verdict is likely to carry a heavy sentence; Razak has vowed to appeal.
The scandal dates back to 2015, when the PM was accused of embezzling some $700M from the fund. Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz, the co-founder of The Wolf Of Wall Street backer Red Granite Pictures, reached a settlement with the government back in May and was discharged without formally being acquitted on his charges.
Earlier this week, U.S. financier Goldman Sachs also reached a $3BN settlement with Malaysian authorities for its own role in the corruption. The firm had been accused of misleading investors when helping to raise $6.5BN for 1MDB, with much of the money being embezzled. Goldman Sachs called the settlement “an important step” in concluding the matter, as per the BBC.
On each of the seven charges he was found guilty of, Razak faces 15-20 years in jail and hefty fines. They involve abuse of power, three charges of criminal breach of trust and three money laundering charges involving the transfer of $9.8M from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, into Najib’s bank accounts
The ex-PM, who claims he was misled by rogue bankers, is also set for a further four corruption trials totaling 42 charges in total related to the scandal. Associated Press reported that the first ruling is likely to bolster the prosecutor’s cases in the further trials. However, Razak’s party remains in office in Malaysia and analysts have warned that this could influence the decision being overturned.
“I want justice. I want to clear my name,” Razak wrote on Facebook on Monday. “After this, we will go to the Court of Appeal. I am ready.”
As Deadline revealed back in 2018, Ivanhoe Pictures parent company SK Global and Michelle Yeoh have teamed up to develop a feature about the 1MDB scandal based on Wall Street Journal investigative reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope’s book Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood And The World.