Appeal Court upholds the conviction of Razak linked to the massive looting of the 1MDB state investment fund that brought down his government in 2018.

Najib could request another stay on his sentence and file a further appeal to the Federal Court, Malaysia's top tribunal.
Najib could request another stay on his sentence and file a further appeal to the Federal Court, Malaysia's top tribunal. (Reuters)

A Malaysian appeals court has upheld former Prime Minister Najib Razak's conviction in a case linked to a corruption scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

"We dismiss the appellant's appeal," judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil told the Court of Appeal in the administrative capital Putrajaya on Wednesday.

"We affirm the conviction by the High Court on all seven charges."

Najib, who was voted out of office in 2018, has pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges over his involvement in the alleged theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB, a state fund he co-founded as premier in 2009.

In the first of several trials, the 68-year-old was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $50 million last year after being found guilty of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering for illegally receiving about $10 million from SRC International, a former unit of now-defunct 1MDB.

Najib remains out on bail and could request another stay on his sentence and file a further appeal to the Federal Court, Malaysia's top tribunal.

READ MORE: Malaysian ex-PM Najib sentenced to 12 years jail for abuse of power

Proceedings held online

The Court of Appeal ordered proceedings to be conducted online, denying a request by Najib's lawyers to postpone its verdict after a member of his legal team tested positive for Covid-19.

The court also rejected a separate application by defence lawyers, filed last week, to introduce new evidence that they said could help exonerate Najib.

Defence lawyers argue that Najib has been denied a fair trial because the high court judge made "serious misdirections" in the trial. Najib has said he wasn't aware of the SRC money channeled into his bank accounts and that he was misled by Malaysian fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.

But the judge said Najib's argument that he was duped by Low into believing the money was part of a donation by the Saudi royal family — to keep Najib from being suspicious of the 1MDB plundering — was far-fetched and a weak fabrication. 

Low remains at large.

Najib faces a total of 42 charges in five separate trials, some of which are ongoing. His wife is also on trial for graft.

Despite his conviction, Najib remains politically influential and his United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party has rebounded from its 2018 shocking election ouster.

UMNO returned to the government in March 2020 as part of a new coalition that took power from the reformist government that won the 2018 elections. 

In August, UMNO took back the premiership after one of its leaders was appointed the country's new prime minister following a power struggle.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies