Last Tuesday, Malaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak, started a 12-year jail sentence for graft charges in the multibillion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal. 1MDB was a fund for long-term economic development in Malaysia, but Najib was accused of laundering money through it and looting its funds. After Najib lost power, police raided his family home and found loads of luxurious items like tiaras, jewelry, watches and hundreds of designer Hermes Birkin bags alongside a pile of cash that came to an estimated US$246 million. Prosecutors also accused Najib’s wife, the former First Lady of Malaysia, Rosmah Mansor, of accepting bribes and engaging in corruption, even though she didn’t hold an official position.
On Thursday, Rosmah was sentenced to 10 years for bribery in exchange for government contracts. Allegedly, Rosmah solicited 187.5 million ringgit (US$42 million) and received another 6.5 million ringgit (US$1.5 million) to help a company get a contract for providing solar power to schools on Borneo Island. She pled not guilty, but high court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan called her defense “bare denial and unsubstantiated.” She got 10 years on each charge to be served concurrently, and she was fined 970m ringgit (US$216.7 million). She’s going to appeal the ruling and is out on bail until then. On top of this verdict, Rosmah still faces 17 other charges of financial crimes to which she’s pleading not guilty.
“By herself, she occupied no official position. However, she wielded considerable influence by reason of her overbearing nature,” said prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram.
“I do not even know the cost of the project. So I am just telling the truth and nothing else but the truth. If that’s your conclusion, I surrender to God,” Rosmah said in court.