Malaysia’s ex-PM Najib starts appeal against 1MDB-linked conviction, jail sentence

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Court of Appeal on Monday (Apr 5) 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 US$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 US$50 million fine after being found guilty of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering for illegally receiving about US$10 million from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.

The sentences were stayed pending an appeal.

READ: Malaysia’s AMMB Holdings to pay US$700m to government in 1MDB-linked settlement

READ: Deloitte to pay Malaysia $80 mln to settle claims linked to 1MDB

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 RM42 million 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 Apr 5 and 22 to hear the appeal.

READ: Former Malaysia PM Najib Razak sentenced to 12 years in jail following guilty verdict in 1MDB trial

READ: ‘We believe in our innocence’, say Najib and lawyers as they pledge to appeal 1MDB verdict

Prosecutors have said more than US$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.

READ: Malaysian court orders graft trial of wife of ex-PM Najib to proceed

In recent months, Malaysia has recovered more than US$3 billion from US bank Goldman Sachs, audit firm Deloitte, and Malaysian banking group AmBank in separate deals to settle claims linked to 1MDB probes.

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