A court in Kuala Lumpur has found Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, guilty of seeking and receiving bribes in exchange for a government contract.
The verdict on Thursday came just a week after Najib began serving a 12-year jail sentence over a case linked to the looting of the 1MDB state fund.
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Rosmah was charged with three counts of bribery in connection with a $279m project to provide solar power to schools in rural Sarawak.
Prosecutors say she sought a payment of 187.5 million Malaysian ringgit ($41.8m) in return for helping the Malaysian firm, Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd, get the government contract. They say she received payments worth 5 million Malaysian ringgit ($1.12m) and 1.5 million Malaysian ringitt ($334,578) for the exchange.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court found her guilty on all three charges.
Rosmah, the self-styled ‘first lady of Malaysia’, had denied the charges at start of her trial and on Thursday morning arrived at court in a traditional Malay outfit with a headscarf and mask — all in yellow. The 70 year old did not speak to reporters.
Najib lost power in May 2018 — the first time that his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party had lost an election since independence — amid public anger over the multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB. The United States Department of Justice alleges that some $4.5b was stolen from 1MDB, some of which ended up in Najib’s private bank accounts.
Following the election, crowds thronged a Kuala Lumpur airport amid reports Najib and Rosmah were planning to leave the country on a private jet, as police searched their properties for evidence, hauling away hundreds of millions of dollars in cash, designer handbags and numerous items of luxury jewellery and branded watches.
Rosmah, with her distinctive bouffant hairstyle, now faces as many as 20 years in prison. She may be allowed to stay out of jail if she appeals a guilty verdict to a higher court.
Najib was found guilty of corruption in 2020 in the first of the cases he faced in connection with the 1MDB scandal.
The sentence was upheld by Malaysia’s highest court last week and he is now serving his sentence in Kajang prison south of Kuala Lumpur, the first former Malaysian prime minister to be jailed.
Najib also faces four other cases involving 1MDB, while Rosmah faces additional charges of money laundering and tax evasion.