Surreal crime caper in Malaysia

While it appears that justice is being served in Malaysia, apparently evil lurks especially among its high and mighty.

September 3, 2022

The 1MDB scandal in Malaysia, which has led to the downfall of its government, the arrest of its then prime minister Najib Razak, who is now serving a 12-year jail term for one of seven charges of corruption, and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s sentencing to 10 years in prison on three bribery charges, is a dizzying tale of greed and evil schemes.

An abbreviation of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (which means limited), 1MDB began as a Malaysian state fund established in 2009 to spur development with foreign investment and partnerships, under the direction of its chairman, Najib.

As it turned out, based on leaked financial documents, 1MDB was a potful of criminal activity. Huge amounts of money were borrowed via government bonds and diverted to bank accounts in Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

The evidence came in the form of $731 million appearing in the personal bank account of Razak in the run-up to Malaysia’s 2013 elections.

The scheme, which is said to have happened from 2009 to 2012, involved another character, Malaysian businessman Jho Low, supposedly a consultant to 1MDB.

A report on theguardian.com said Low bought “tens of billions of dollars’ worth of property in Beverly Hills and Manhattan, including an apartment once owned by Jay Z and Beyoncé; a $35 million private jet; a $260 million yacht; a $3.2 million Picasso given to Leonardo DiCaprio; $85 million in Las Vegas gambling debts; a birthday party for Low where Jamie Foxx, Chris Brown, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes and Pharrell Williams performed live and Britney Spears jumped out of a cake; and $8 million in diamonds for Australian model Miranda Kerr.”

To top this surreal crime caper, “tens of millions of dollars” more went to finance the film Wolf of Wall Street , through a production company run by Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz.

Low is at large.

It took media for the scandal to blow up in the faces of Najib and his cohorts.

British reporter Clare Rewcastle-Brown of the website Sarawak Report, along with The Wall Street Journal, got hold of 227,000 leaked documents directly pertaining to the crime.

In true crook fashion, Najib fired Abdul Gani, the attorney-general who led the Malaysian anti-corruption agency in investigating the case, or cases.

Najib is facing 42 charges across five separate trials. Only one decision has been handed down from the first trial — in which he was found guilty of seven charges, including criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power.

His wife, Rosmah, was sentenced to 10 years over three charges of soliciting and receiving bribes to help a company win a 1.25 billion ringgit ($279 million) project.

At 70 years old, she has a penchant for jewelry and luxury items. Found in their residence, following a raid by Malaysian police in 2018, were a $1.6 million gold and diamond necklace, 14 tiaras and 272 Hermes bags.

To make sense of this mind-boggling story is to dig into Najib’s dynastic background. He is eldest son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, Abdul Razak, and the nephew to its third.

When Najib won as prime minister in 2009, he headed the party which monopolized Malaysian politics for 50 years.

He attended secondary school at the prestigious Malvern College in the UK, and then took up industrial economics at the University of Nottingham.

While it appears that justice is being served in Malaysia, apparently evil lurks especially among its high and mighty.


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