KUALA LUMPUR, KOMPAS.com – Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal that rocked the country and its political scene reached its first verdict with Najib Razak expected to spend decades in jail.
Najib Razak was Malaysia’s former Prime Minister and played an integral role in the embezzlement of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
Najib’s sentencing was declared on Tuesday in the then-Prime Minister’s first corruption trial linked to the fraud.
Malaysian top officials are accused of looting billions and going on a massive spending spree.
From the purchase of a $250 million yacht and a Van Gogh painting as well as financing a Hollywood blockbuster, government officials did not skimp out on utilizing the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund.
What was 1MDB?
1MDB was a state investment fund that Najib launched in 2009 shortly after becoming prime minister.
Its portfolio included power plants and other energy assets in Malaysia and the Middle East, as well as real estate in Kuala Lumpur.
The fund was closely overseen by Najib.
Whistleblowers say Low Taek Jho, a jet-setting Malaysian financier close to Najib but with no official position, helped set up 1MDB and made key financial decisions.
Concerns escalated in 2014 as 1MDB slid into an $11-billion debt hole, and intensifying public scrutiny revealed missing funds.
The scandal first came to light through the Sarawak Report news portal and gained further traction in 2015 when The Wall Street Journal published documents showing Najib received at least $681 million in payments to his personal bank accounts.
The US Justice Department launched its own probe after claims that stolen Malaysian public money was laundered through the US financial system, and has filed lawsuits seeking some $1.8 billion in assets allegedly purchased with the cash.
The department said more than $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB between 2009 and 2015 by high-level officials at the fund and their associates.