Wife of ex-Malaysian PM Najib Razak jailed for bribery

Wife of ex-Malaysian PM Najib Razak jailed for bribery
Wife of ex-Malaysian PM Najib Razak jailed for bribery

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - KUALA LUMPUR — The wife of ex-Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been sentenced to ten years in prison on each of three bribery charges.

Rosmah Mansor was found guilty on three charges of soliciting and receiving bribes to help a company win a 1.25bn ringgit ($279m, £240m) project.

The High Court said the jail terms would run concurrently.

It comes days after her husband began serving a 12-year jail sentence for corruption.

The 70-year-old is known for her love of luxury goods and jewelry. When Malaysian police raided the couple's properties in 2018, they found a $1.6m gold and diamond necklace, 14 tiaras and 272 Hermes bags.

Rosmah, who had pleaded not guilty, sat quietly in the dock as High Court judge Zaini Mazlan delivered the verdict on Thursday afternoon.

"I must admit that I'm very sad with what happened today," she said tearfully to the judge after the verdict was delivered, according to a Reuters news agency report.

"Nobody saw me taking the money, nobody saw me counting the money.... but if that's the conclusion, I leave it to God."

She has also been fined a total of 970m ringgit. However, it is unclear when she will start serving a prison sentence, as she has been granted a stay of execution pending her appeal.

Rosmah still faces 17 other charges of money-laundering and tax evasion. She has pleaded not guilty to these charges.

Prosecutors said Rosmah had sought a bribe of 187.5m ringgit and had received 6.5m ringgit from an official of a company that won the bid for a solar energy project.

She had earlier argued that she was framed by her former aide as well as other officials involved in the project, but the judge called her defense "bare denial and unsubstantiated".

Her legal team had also filed a last-ditch application on Wednesday to get the presiding judge recused. They argued that an alleged leaked document which stated that her guilty verdict had been decided ahead of time had left her with no faith in the judge's ability to hear the case fairly.

But Judge Mazlan dismissed the recusal application, saying the prosecution had proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said the Malaysian people were entitled to "receive their share of justice".

"Justice is not only to the accused, it is also to the state," he said, according to a video posted on social media.

The sentencing was praised by a Malaysian civil society group.

"Justice has been served for the people of Malaysia," Mandeep Singh, former secretariat manager of Bersih 2.0 told the BBC.

"For the people of Malaysia, we can't stop here. [Rosmah] can still appeal, but we hope that eventually she will join her husband in prison."

Najib and his wife are at the center of a sprawling investigation spanning six countries over their alleged involvement in state-owned wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

1MDB, set up by Najib in 2009 during his tenure as premier, was meant to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments.

But it started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the $11bn it owed to banks and bondholders.

In 2020, a court found Najib guilty on seven counts — centered on a total of 42m ringgit which was transferred from SRC International - a former unit of 1MDB - into his private accounts.

He was sentenced last Tuesday to 12 years' jail and a fine of 210m ringgit. — BBC

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