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Najib in the dock as trial begins

China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-04 07:31
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court on Wednesday. [LAI SENG SIN/REUTERS]

Ten years to the day after he was sworn in, disgraced former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak stood trial on Wednesday for corruption charges linked to a multibillion-dollar scandal that brought down his government, Reuters reported.

Najib, wearing a dark blue suit and a matching tie, smiled as he got out of his car in front of the Kuala Lumpur high court.

A small number of Najib's supporters, including some from his constituency in Pekan town of Pahang state, were present outside the court building, but they were dwarfed by members of the media and the police contingent of around 60 who were present to provide security and crowd control, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Minutes later, Najib was sitting in the dock.

He faces seven charges in the first of several criminal proceedings he is due to face over suspected money laundering of $4.5 billion from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, also known as 1MDB.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

The trial relates to suspected transfers totaling 42 million ringgit ($10.3 million) into Najib's bank account from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.

Najib has pleaded not guilty to three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of power over the transfers, which involve a fraction of the $1 billion investigators allege made its way into his accounts.

Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing and says the charges against him are politically motivated.

Public disgust

The trial was originally set to begin on Feb 12, but was delayed pending appeals by Najib's lawyers. On Monday, they asked the highest court to review its decision to lift the stay on the trial, media reported.

The review will be heard on Thursday by the Federal Court.

The trial begins nearly a year after Malaysians voted Najib out of office in a general election, marked by public disgust over corruption and rising living costs, that brought Mahathir Mohamad, 93, back to power.

Since losing the election, Najib has been slapped with a total of 42 criminal charges, most of them linked to 1MDB and other state entities.

The luxurious lifestyle of Najib and his family also came to light with the discovery of nearly $300 million worth of goods and cash at properties linked to him.

Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor has also been charged with corruption. She has pleaded not guilty.

At least six countries, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore, have launched money laundering and graft probes into 1MDB, set up by Najib in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government said on Wednesday that a luxury yacht allegedly bought with money stolen from 1MDB will be sold to casino operator Genting Berhad for $126 million, half its original price, the Associated Press reported.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said the Admiralty Court on Wednesday approved the sale of the Equanimity, which has lavish amenities including a helicopter landing pad, plunge pool, gymnasium and a cinema. Genting will pay up by end of April, making it the "highest recovery to date" for the government from the scandal, he said in a statement.

Xinhua

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