Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak to learn fate in 1MDB trial next month

Above, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak the Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur on June 1, 2020. Najib faces a verdict on July 28 over the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 05 June 2020

Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak to learn fate in 1MDB trial next month

  • Najib Razak lost power in 2018 elections, in large part due to accusations of his involvement in the 1MDB scandal

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s ex-leader Najib Razak will learn his fate over allegations he plundered state coffers next month when a verdict is delivered in his first trial over the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal.
Huge sums were looted from the country’s sovereign wealth fund and spent on items ranging from high-end real estate to artwork, in a globe-spanning fraud allegedly involving Najib and his inner circle.
The former prime minister lost power in 2018 elections, in large part due to accusations of his involvement, and he is fronting several trials over the controversy. He denies all wrongdoing.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court this week heard closing arguments in the first trial, which began 14 months ago and centers on the transfer of 42 million ringgit ($9.8 million) to Najib’s bank accounts.
The presiding judge said Friday he would hand down a verdict on July 28.
Najib will face a lengthy jail term and will likely be sentenced on the same day if found guilty.
His lawyers argue the 66-year-old was ignorant of the transactions into his accounts from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.
They have pointed the finger at Low Taek Jho, a jet-setting Malaysian financier known as “Jho Low,” as the true mastermind behind the fraud, saying he tricked the former premier.
Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Adbullah urged the judge to clear Najib of the seven charges of corruption and money-laundering he is facing, saying the bank transfers were “illegal.”
“The transactions were never authorized” by Najib, he said, adding that “rogue bankers” were also involved in the fraud.
Low, who held no official positions at 1MDB but was believed to wield huge influence over the investment vehicle, has been charged in Malaysia and the US over the scandal.
The financier, whose current whereabouts are unknown, maintains his innocence.
Prosecutors claim that Najib had full control over SRC International and took major decisions related to it.
The case is one of three 1MDB-linked trials so far underway involving the former premier.


Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

The wreckage of the car where six French aid workers, their local guide and the driver were killed by unidentified gunmen riding motorcycles in an area of southwestern Niger. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2020

Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

  • Attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group of aid workers as they drove through the giraffe reserve
  • France has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert

NIAMEY: French and Nigerien soldiers searched through a giraffe reserve and the surrounding area in Niger on Monday for traces of the gunmen who killed six French aid workers, a French military source said.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor also opened an investigation into the incident, in which attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group as it drove through the reserve located 65 km (40 miles) from the capital Niamey — an area considered safe by the Niger government.
The French aid workers were employed by the charity ACTED. A local driver working for the relief group and a guide were also killed. ACTED called the murders “senseless and cowardly.”
“This heinous crime must not go unpunished, nor will it distract us from our commitment to support the people of Niger,” said ACTED, which has worked to help vulnerable populations in the country since 2010.
No one has claimed responsibility for the assault. But France and other countries have warned people against traveling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and an affiliate of Daesh operate.
“Military operations are ongoing today,” the military source said.
In the clearest sign yet that France believes a militant group was behind the attack, the office of France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor said it was launching an investigation on suspicion of the involvement of a terrorist group.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he shared their families’ grief. “Our determination to combat armed terrorist groups is resolute. The fight continues,” Macron tweeted.
The reserve southeast of Niamey is home to West Africa’s last sizeable population of giraffe in the wild. In the wet season, thick green acacia bushes dot the flat, sandy plains.
It is a popular attraction in Niger, a vast country that borders seven states in an unstable region including Libya, Mali, Chad, Algeria and Nigeria.
France, a former colonial power in the region, has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert since 2013. The United States also has soldiers based in Niger.
Nonetheless, militant violence has been on the rise.