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Malaysia’s ex-PM Najib acquitted of tampering with 1MDB audit

Former leader remains in prison serving a 12-year sentence on other charges related to the 1MDB scandal.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been cleared of audit tampering related to the 1MDB scandal, but will remain in prison serving a 12-year sentence on other charges.

Malaysia’s Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors could not prove that Najib, who led Malaysia from 2009 to 2018, interfered with an official audit report on the scandal-ridden sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Najib had been accused of using his position to order changes to the report on 1MDB before it was presented to a parliamentary committee responsible for overseeing state finances.

Former 1MDB chief Arul Kanda Kandasamy was also cleared of complicity with Najib in tampering with the report.

“The first accused (Arul Kanda) is dismissed and acquitted of the charges. The second defendant (Najib) has been dismissed and acquitted of the charges against him,” said judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

Najib began serving a 12-year prison sentence in August 2022 after losing his last appeal in a corruption case linked to the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB.

Najib, the British-educated son of his country’s second prime minister, was found guilty in July 2020 of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering for illegally receiving approximately $10 million from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

The acquittal of the 70-year-old former leader on the sabotage charge on Friday has no influence on his current sentence.

Najib, who became the first former leader in Malaysia’s history to go to jail, continues to face multiple charges in connection with the scandal, which has also sparked investigations in the US, Switzerland and Singapore.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was elected in November, has pledged to restore Malaysia’s image and stamp out post-scandal corruption, including by launching a review of projects overseen by the previous government.