(Bloomberg) — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak scored a rare legal victory Friday as the country’s high court freed him from one of his cases involving the troubled state fund 1MDB.
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Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan ruled that the prosecution failed to add credible evidence that warrants a conviction for Najib in his corruption trial related to the audit report of 1MDB.
Najib was charged in 2018 of abusing his position to order amendments to the government’s audit report of 1Malaysia Development Bhd to protect himself from criminal, civil or regulatory action. These include erasing the presence of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, at a 1MDB board meeting.
“There was no evidence to show that the auditor general was forced to attend meetings or make changes to the audit report,” Mohamed Zaini said in his judgment. “As for the gratification that was alleged to have sought, I agree that there was no causal link between the amendments made and the gratification allegations.”
The audit case was among the multiple trials that Najib faced in relation to 1MDB, which became the focus of a scandal that spawned probes in Asia, the US and Europe. He is now serving a 12-year prison sentence for a separate corruption conviction linked to 1MDB’s former unit SRC International.
Malaysia’s high court on Friday also granted an acquittal to former 1MDB President Arul Kandasamy for charges of abetting Najib in altering the audit report.
Both had previously pleaded not guilty and were released on a 500,000 ringgit bail each. The prosecution closed its case in September last year after calling more than a dozen witnesses — including Arul — to testify, according to local media. If convicted, they would have each had to face up to 20 years’ jail and a fine.
READ: How Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal Shook the Financial World: QuickTake
(Updates with additional details throughout.)
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