Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was found guilty of all charges in his first trial involving the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal. This marks him as the first former prime minister to be charged and convicted in Malaysia.
Besides facing up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine for the abuse of power under the MACC Act, Najib was also charged for three counts of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) under the Section 409 of the Penal Code facing a jail term of up to 20 years, a fine and whipping. He is also charged for another three counts of money laundering under Section 4(1)(b) Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA) 2001 which he will face up to 15 years in jail and a fine.
After the defence has failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt on all the charges that are against the accused, Justice Nazlan finds the accused guilty and convicted on all seven charges, reported The Star. The Judge has sentenced the former prime minister to 12 years’ jail and an RM210mil fine.
Let’s take a look at his timeline of offence (major developments) that has led to his conviction.
Only four months in as Malaysia’s prime minister and finance minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has officially launched the 1MDB sovereign fund that is said to be focused on strategic development projects in the areas of energy, real estate, tourism and more.
1MDB signs a deal with a private Saudi oil company, PetroSaudi International with a 60:40 ratio where 1MDB invests in US$1 billion cash for 40% stake of the company. Whereas PetroSaudi contributed with their oil and gas assets that are at least valued at US$1.5 billion.
Built by 1MDB, Najib launches the Tun Razak Exchange which was previously known as the Kuala Lumpur International Financial District. He also claimed that the first phase of the development will bring RM3.5 billion in direct foreign investments.
May and October 2012
Wall Street bank, Goldman Sach’s worked with the sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB to raise $3.5 billion in two separate bond deals dubbed as “Project Magnolia” in May 2012 and “Project Maximus” in October 2012.
In a third transaction, Goldman Sach’s has helped 1MDB raise another $3 billion under “Project Catalyze”.
The Wolf of Wall Street film was produced by a Hollywood production company called Red Granite Pictures which was co-founded by Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz. The company was relatively unknown on the Hollywood scene until it helped pumped in $100m to make the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Red Granite also produced the films Dumb and Dumber 2 and Daddy’s Home using suspected stolen funds from the sovereign wealth fund.
With debts rising, 1MDB misses a loan payment of about $550m.
Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company pumps in $1 billion into the 1MDB fund to repay a $975 million loan to a syndicate of international bank lenders.
News portal, Sarawak Report and The Sunday Times reported that Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz had connections with Penang-based financier Jho Low had withdrawn $700 million from the joint venture deal through Good Star Ltd. Even though he did not have any decision-making authority, it is known that he was regularly consulted in regards to the fund.
The Wall Street Journal released a report stating that $700 million was deposited into Najib’s personal bank accounts from the 1MDB fund but he rebutted all allegations.
Malaysia forms a ‘special task force’ to make further investigation on 1MDB that is inclusive of the officials from the police anti-graft agency, central bank and the Attorney-General’s Chambers. However, it was found that six of the frozen accounts were not linked to Najib. It was because he had closed his AmBank Islamic accounts then.
Under pressure with the criticism, Najib reshuffles his cabinet and sacks the attorney general who was leading the investigation including deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin. With the new changes, the investigation was effectively shut down.
The anti-graft agency states that the $700 million that was deposited into Najib’s accounts originated from donations not from the sovereign fund.
The new Attorney-General clears Najib of any wrongdoing and released a statement saying that the $681 million was a personal donation made from the Saudi royal family. By then, $620 million was returned.
The United States Department of Justice files a civil suit seeking the forfeiture and recovery of assets that were purchased with the stolen funds. The lawsuit says at least $681 million was deposited into the account of “Malaysian Official 1”, who was later identified as Najib by both US and Malaysian officials.
Jho Low is suspected to be at the centre of the 1MDB scandal hence the US authorities plan to file criminal charges against him.
More than $4.5 billion was siphoned from the 1MDB fund by senior officials and associates, says the Department of Justice.
1MDB was given five days by the International Petroleum Investment Company to make a $600 million payment but failed to do so on July 31. 1MDB said that it will make the following payment with the month.
The failure to make the payment turns out to be “a technical matter, and not a question of not being able to pay back”, says Najib.
The US Attorney-General described this whole fiasco as “kleptocracy at its worst”.
In all of Malaysia’s political history, Najib was defeated in the GE14 by opposition Pakatan Harapan. Immediately, both Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor were barred from leaving the country.
Within a few days later, Malaysian police had seized all luxury items from Najib’s properties in Kuala Lumpur. All valued at around $275 million. Both Najib and Rosmah were taken in for questioning by the MACC.
For the first time, Najib has been charged in the Sessions Court with three counts of CBT and one charge of abusing of power in relation to the probe into SRC International.
The case was then transferred to the High Court and there he was charged with another three counts of money laundering involving the same scandal. High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali denied Najib’s plea for a gag order preventing the media and the public from making comments on the validity of his criminal proceedings that would suggest his guilt before his prosecution has been disposed of.
Malaysia brought criminal proceedings against Goldman Sachs in conjunction with the 1MDB bond sake.
Najib sent a letter to the High Court through his legal firm, asking that the trial that was scheduled for February 12 to be postponed on the basis of his three interlocutory appeals before the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal then allowed the request for postponement of the trial.
On April 3, Najib was put before the Kuala Lumpur High Court to answer seven allegations related to SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB, in the first of a series of trials pertaining to the failed fund.
Malaysia has retrieved $322 million worth of 1MDB funds so far, says Attorney-General Tommy Thomas. Malaysia also declares the completion of the selling of Equanimity, a $250 million superyacht reportedly acquired with funds stolen from 1MDB.
Riza Aziz, founder and producer of Red Granite Pictures, was detained in Malaysia on suspicion of money laundering.
The High Court shall set the date of November 11 as the day of submission of its ruling on Najib on the SRC International trial.
Najib goes to trial in the biggest of his five 1MDB-linked trials.
Najib is taken to the jury box in his own defence and read from a written speech in regards to all seven charges involving the abuse of SRC International funds.
Nine phone audio recordings were received over a week earlier and were released by the MACC. These recordings were recorded between January 5 and July 29, 2016, totalling about 45 minutes, discovering Najib’s efforts to cover up investigations into the 1MDB case.
One of the recordings was a conversation between his wife, Rosmah and him who seemed distressed at Najib’s mishandling of the controversy. Whereas another recording was found to be about him Najib requesting support from the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to help remove Riza Aziz’s involvement in the controversy.
Officials from the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) claimed Malaysia had retrieved $322 million that was seized from the 1MDB fund. However, US investigators estimated a fraction of more than $4.5 billion had been looted.
Over $300 million in assets looted after the 1MDB crisis has been returned by the US Department of Justice.
Malaysian prosecutors consent to drop the money laundering charges on Riza Aziz with a $107.3 million settlement.
Najib Razak is found guilty on all charges (three counts of CBT, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of power).