Najib was voted out in a historic 2018 election amid public anger over allegations that $4.5 billion was stolen in a globe-spanning scheme from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a fund he co-founded. Prosecutors allege more than $1 billion made its way into his personal accounts. His party returned to power this year in an alliance led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, prompting some to question how whether the return would affect several corruption cases against Najib and his allies.
For Najib, the verdict in the years-long saga, which has seen a spectacular fall from extreme opulence and a dominant position in Malaysian politics, marks a reckoning for the urbane, British-educated politician — potentially decades in jail or a partial vindication. It also comes just four days after the announcement of a $3.9 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs in return for Malaysia dropping criminal charges against investment bank over its role in helping 1MDB sell $6.5 billion in bonds.
Najib will first hear the verdict on seven charges he faces over receiving 42 million ringgit ($9.9 million) from former 1MDB unit SRC International in 2014. He has pleaded not guilty to criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power. Najib testified that he was misled by Malaysian financier Jho Low and other 1MDB officials into believing the funds were donated by the Saudi royal family and not misappropriated from SRC, as prosecutors charge.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said in 2016 that the funds were “a genuine donation,” but the government has not commented on the case since.