Malaysia’s former first lady Rosmah Mansor has been sentenced 10 years in prison after being found guilty of soliciting and receiving bribes during her husband’s tenure as prime minister. Her husband Najib Razak was jailed for 12 years over the massive looting of the 1MDB state fund.
The former first lady convicted of soliciting 42 million dollars and receiving 1.5 million dollars to help a company secure a project to provide solar energy panels to schools in Borneo.
On each charge, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be served concurrently, and a total fine of US$217 million. In the meantime, she is permitted to remain free on bail pending her appeal to a higher court.
According to High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Rosmah corruptly solicited bribes. “She offered no credible evidence to support her denial,” he said.
The proceedings started with the former first lady’s emotional plea from the dock, expressing her sadness at the injustice she had faced. She said in her role as the wife of the prime minister, she headed charity foundations but never solicited funds or accepted anything.
Additionally, she condemned the events that led to Najib’s imprisonment and her family’s suffering as political persecution. My knowledge of the project’s cost is nonexistent. As a result, I’m only telling the truth,” she said. “If that’s what you conclude, I surrender to God.”
Afterwards, the lawyer of former first lady Mr. Jagjit Singh told reporters that the fine was the largest ever in Malaysia’s history.
According to him, Rosmah was shocked and upset, and they plan to appeal to a higher court. In accordance with the law, each charge can result in a 20-year prison sentence and a fine ten times the amount of bribes bribed.
Rosmah’s conviction is yet another blow after former Prime Minister Najib when began a 12-year prison term last Tuesday. Najib lost his final appeal in one of the five graft cases against him involving the pilfering of hundres of millions of dollars from the 1MDB fund.
Judge Zaini also rejected Rosmah’s lawyers request he recuse himself before the verdict because the verdict was allegedly leaked online. According to Rosmah’s lawyers, they lost confidence in the judge after a document with regards verdict was released online.
The judge said he didn’t read the alleged leaked documents, had done his own research and wasn’t prejudiced against Rosmah.
According to Malaysia’s top court, the UK blogger’s action was a deliberate effort to smear the reputation of the court.
Last week, the same blogger published a document it said was the Federal Court’s guilty verdict against Najib, just before the ruling was read out in court.
The court has said that leaked document was only a working draft of the ruling. The high court has filed complaints with police and the UK foreign office over both leaks.
Najib and Rosmah have been charged with multiple graft charges after his United Malays National Organization was ousted in the 2018 elections, prompted by public anger over the 1MDB scandal.
Following the collapse of the reformist government that won the 2018 elections, UMNO returned to power after defections.
The trial of Rosmah shed light on her alleged influence on government since 2009, when her husband took office. Even though Rosmah held no official office, prosecutors said she exerted considerable influence because of her “overbearing nature.” According to witnesses, Rosmah’s affairs were handled by a department called First Lady of Malaysia.
An aide to the first lady, who was jointly charged with her but later testified for the prosecution, told the court that many business people lobbied Rosmah for assistance with government projects. In her testimony, the aide testified Rosmah was widely feared by civil servants and her department frequently received requests promptly.
According to the prosecution, she also spent US$22,300 to hire online propagandists to counter criticism of her lavish lifestyle, which led many Malaysians to dislike her.
In the aftermath of Najib’s fall, police raided family homes and seized more than US$246 million worth of luxury handbags, watches, tiaras and other jewelry.
In her trial, 23 prosecution witnesses were called, but only two defense witnesses were called, including Rosmah. The defendant told the court she had never been involved with government affairs and that her former aide used her name to solicit bribes and pocketed the money for himself.
A second trial has not yet begun against Rosmah for laundering illegal proceeds and tax evasion related to 1MDB.
In his first year as president, Najib established the 1MDB development fund. According to investigators, more than $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and laundered through multiple bank accounts in the U.S. to finance Hollywood films and extravagant purchases like hotels, yachts, art, and jewelry.