11 July 2024

KUALA LUMPUR – A Malaysian pardons board today said it has decided to halve the jail sentence of former prime minister Najib Razak, who was convicted of graft and money laundering related to the multibillion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Najib, who is serving a 12-year jail term, had his sentence reduced to six years and will be released in August 2028. The fines imposed on him will also be reduced to RM50 million (S$14.2 million) from RM210 million, the board’s secretariat said in a statement on Feb 2.

The board, chaired by Malaysia’s king, did not give a reason for halving Najib’s sentence in its statement.

Najib was jailed for graft linked to state fund 1MDB, from which US and Malaysian investigators estimate US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) was stolen and more than US$1 billion channelled to accounts linked to the former premier.

He applied for a royal pardon in August 2022 shortly after his conviction and his sentence was upheld by Malaysia’s highest court, making him the first premier in the country’s history to be jailed.

Najib, 70, has consistently denied wrongdoing, saying he was misled by fugitive financier Jho Low and other 1MDB officials over the source of the funds and that he believed they were donations from the Saudi royal family.

He remains on trial in several other cases linked to corruption at 1MDB. The pardons board said if Najib failed to pay the fine given, an additional year would be imposed on his jail term.

Malaysia’s king plays a largely ceremonial role but can pardon convicted people among discretionary powers granted by the federal constitution. The pardons board, which advises the king, includes the Attorney-General and government officials.

by Reuters