Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will be difficult to jail: Anwar Ibrahim

The prison will be a stark contrast to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s seven-star hotel lifestyle as Malaysia begins to see “closedness” following the scandal that has rocked the country for years, the leader said. Malaysia’s opposition, Anwar Ibrahim said.

Najib, who is accused of his role in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, lost his appeal against his prison sentence on Monday..

Malaysia’s highest court upheld his 12-year prison sentence, which began at Kajang prison, south of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday.

“I think this is a good start. It has reformed and matured Malaysia as a vibrant democracy with strong institutions,” Anwar told CNBC.Squawk Box Asia“on Tuesday.

“Political leaders, political elites continue to cheat with impunity, they think they are invincible and above the law, [but] Now, the message is very clear. Credit must be given to “rakyat” [the people]who made the decision, and therefore we must move on. “

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arrives at federal court in Putrajaya on August 15, 2022. The country’s highest court upheld his 12-year prison sentence, which began at Kajang Prison, south of the capital. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday.

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He urged Malaysians to vote for “integrity”. leaders when they go to the polls next time – Malaysia must hold an election in September 2023 – to ensure their country is safe from further corruption.

Najib is at the center of a scandal – dubbed the world’s largest fraud case – along with alleged fraud masterminds by Malaysian businessman Jho Low and banker Goldman Sachs.

Around $700 million is believed to have been transferred to Najib’s account, and the loss from 1MDB is believed to exceed $4 billion. Najib continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Anwar himself is at the center of various political controversies. He served as the country’s deputy prime minister in the 1990s and was controversially deposed by then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad before being jailed for embezzlement and corruption.

His conviction was overturned and he was released in 2004. He was jailed again for the crime in 2014 before receiving a royal pardon in 2018 and being released. free.

Anwar said Najib would have had better jail terms than he did in the 1990s when he was denied books or visiting family, but jail time would be tough for the former prime minister, who was the first. The first in the country was imprisoned.

“From what I understand from my former colleagues, the corrections officers, he will be treated somewhat better, he will be given some amenities,” he told CNBC.

“But still, prison is not a bed of roses, it’s very difficult, especially compared to the current lifestyle in a seven-star hotel, you’re going to have to go through something hard and tough.”

Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor are accused of living a lavish life at the expense of 1MDB. The trials showed they spent thousands of dollars on hotels and expensive jewelry.

Any attempt by Najib to challenge his conviction through further reviews would be difficult, Anwar said, referring to his own failed attempts in the past.

Mr. Najib could also try to get a pardon from the Malaysian king, but given the financial enormity of the 1MDB scandal, this could be a difficult path, Anwar added.

It is important that Malaysian authorities continue to pursue justice in this scandal, including the recovery of funds stolen from public wallets, Anwar said, when asked if others in the case , such as businessman Low and Najib’s wife, Rosmah, should face justice.

In 2018, Malaysian police raided the homes of Najib and Rosmah as part of an investigation by 1MDB and recovered 284 boxes of luxury handbags and 72 bags filled with jewelry, cash, watches and other objects. other valuable uses.

Anwar also said it was unlikely that Najib could garner support or influence the outcome of the next election behind bars.

So far, his supporters – as seen in court on Monday – while he stands trial have mostly come from his own constituencies, Anwar said.

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