Malaysian ex-PM Najib appeals graft conviction in 1MDB saga

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The ruling was part of the first of several corruption trials against Najib that are linked to the 1MDB scandal, which sparked investigations in the U.S. and several other countries. U.S. investigators alleged that over $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB and laundered by Najib’s associates.

Najib, 67, arrived at the Court of Appeal early Monday but didn’t speak to reporters. Najib, who set up 1MDB shortly after taking office in 2009, has denied all wrongdoing and his sentence was stayed pending the appeal.

Last July, Najib made brief remarks under oath before his sentencing, saying he wasn’t aware of the 42 million ringgit ($10 million) channeled into his bank accounts from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.

But the judge ruled that Najib’s argument that he was duped by Malaysian fugitive financier Low Taek Jho into believing the money was part of a donation by the Saudi royal family, to keep Najib from being suspicious of 1MDB plundering, was far-fetched and a weak fabrication.

Investigators have identified Low as the mastermind behind the looting of 1MDB and he remains at large.

Najib’s second and third trials involving some of the remaining charges are ongoing. His wife and several officials from his party and previous government have also been charged with graft related to 1MDB corruption.

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