ABC Net today stated many reasons that Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak might face more than 100 years in jail.
According to the international media outlet, billions of dollars missing from state coffers. Hundreds of millions worth of luxury goods seized from a former prime minister’s home. A corruption and money laundering probe spanning six countries.
It sounds like the plot of a far-fetched movie. And while several celebrities and a Hollywood blockbuster have become entangled in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, Malaysia’s ongoing political drama is very real.
Malaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak, is due to stand trial today for his alleged role in the multi-billion-dollar looting of the state investment fund 1MDB.
But why have prosecutors hit the erstwhile leader with so many charges? How does The Wolf of Wall Street fit in? And what does Mr Najib himself have to say about it all?
Here, we break down the charges, the trial and the background of a case that has gripped Malaysia — and much of the world.
What is the 1MDB scandal exactly?
The 1MDB fund was founded by Mr Najib in 2009 as a vehicle to create long-term economic development in Malaysia.
Less than a decade on, it was being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.
Civil lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice allege that nearly $US4.5 billion ($6.3 billion) was misappropriated from 1MDB during its lifespan.
The scandal helped to bring down Mr Najib’s government, with Malaysian voters ousting him amid a tide of public disgust in May last year — the first time his party had lost power since the country gained independence from Britain in 1957.
Malaysia’s now-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who led the country for more than two decades until he stood down in 2003, emerged from retirement at age 92 to challenge his onetime protege.
Since the shock election result, Malaysian authorities have pursued the case against Mr Najib and his associates unrelentingly, investigating and laying charges against several people allegedly responsible for using 1MDB as a slush fund.
How is Mr Najib allegedly involved?
Mr Najib, the son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, is a career politician who was elected to his father’s parliamentary seat at the tender age of 23.
He established 1MDB soon after taking up Malaysia’s highest office in 2009, but by 2015 the fund was said to have incurred massive debts, and media reports had begun probing allegations of corruption.
Malaysian prosecutors allege that Mr Najib used his position as prime minister to obtain 2.3 billion ringgit ($793 million) for the fund between 2011 and 2014, and transferred at least $14 million of public money into his personal bank accounts.
The US Department of Justice alleges that $936 million, based on foreign exchange rates, of 1MDB funds went into Mr Najib’s bank account.
The 65-year-old was banned from leaving the country after losing the election, before he was arrested in July last year.
In the days before his arrest authorities seized cash, jewellery, designer handbags and watches totalling more than $370 million from his home — a haul that required 22 officials, three days and six counting machines.