Since hearings in the 1MDB state development fund trial commenced in August, prosecutors have presented jaw-dropping accounts of the alleged top-level scam of corruption and abuse of power.
Ex-premier Najib Razak stands accused of scamming hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB for self-enrichment. Also for actively interfering with an anti-corruption probe launched after the first hints of the scandal broke in July 2015.
Prosecutors have leveled 42 charges against Najib, who faces the possibility of life in prison for graft, money laundering, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust.
The latest trial, one of a scheduled five, brings 21 charges of money laundering and four of abuse of power. For receiving illegal transfers of about 2.3 billion ringgit (US$550.8 million) between 2011 and 2014.
Observers are also waiting for justice to be served. In a case that some have referred to as the biggest heist in financial history. Malaysia is slowly but surely putting in place new mechanisms to prevent a repeat of the massive scam.
Dave Ananth, a senior tax counsel with Stace Hammond Lawyers in Auckland, New Zealand, believes Najib’s defense strategy has been flawed from the beginning and inconsistent.
“That he was cheated and had the wrong advisors. That to me cannot hold water as funds were disbursed into his account. He knew about it and spent it,” he told Asia Times.
To be sure, Najib did not act alone on the scam, according to prosecutors pursuing the case.
1MDB Fund Scam Conspirator
Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, who is widely viewed as the chief architect of the scam.
Low, is accused of setting up a globe-spanning web of intermediaries and shell companies through which an estimated $4.5 billion was embezzled with tacit approval from Najib. Prosecutors claim his family members were allegedly among the corrupt scheme’s top beneficiaries.
Low has been charged in the United States and faces 15 counts of money laundering in Malaysia. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the 1MDB state development fund scandal.
His whereabouts are currently unconfirmed, though he is widely rumored to be in China. Malaysian police claim they know where Low is and hope to have him extradited to Malaysia before year’s end.
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