Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been acquitted of audit tampering in connection with the 1MDB scandal but will remain in prison where he is serving a 12-year sentence on other charges.
Malaysia’s High Court ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that Najib, who led Malaysia between 2009 and 2018, interfered with an official audit report about the scandal-plagued sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Najib had been accused of using his position to order changes to the report on 1MDB before it was presented to a parliamentary committee responsible for overseeing state finances.
Former 1MDB chief Arul Kanda Kandasamy was also cleared of abetting Najib in tampering with the report.
“The first accused [Arul Kanda] is discharged and acquitted from the charge. The second accused [Najib] is discharged and acquitted against the charge made against him,” Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said.
Najib began a 12-year prison sentence in August 2022 after losing his final appeal in a corruption case linked to the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB.
Najib, the British-educated son of his country’s second prime minister, was found guilty in July 2020 of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering for illegally receiving about $10m from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.
The 70-year-old former leader’s acquittal on the tampering charge on Friday does not affect his current sentence.
Najib, who became the first former leader in Malaysia’s history to go to prison, still faces multiple charges related to the scandal, which has also sparked investigations in the US, Switzerland and Singapore.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was elected in November, has pledged to restore Malaysia’s image and root out corruption in the wake of the scandal, including by launching a review of projects overseen by the previous administration.
Source : al Jazeera