Malaysia Court Rejects Najib House Arrest Bid for 1MDB Crime

(Bloomberg) -- A Malaysian court threw out a petition by former Prime Minister Najib Razak to serve out the rest of his jail sentence in his home for a crime related to troubled wealth fund 1MDB.

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High Court Judge Amarjeet Singh ruled that the affidavits Najib submitted were “pure hearsay.” Najib had sought a court order compelling the government to verify the existence of an additional decree made by a former Malaysian king that allowed him to be placed under house arrest for the remainder of his prison sentence.

“Today the government can remain mute and deaf about this,” Najib’s lawyer Shafee Abdullah told reporters in a briefing after the court decision on Wednesday. “I assure you one day this matter will come out and that the addendum order exists.”

Najib intends to appeal the decision, Shafee said.

It’s a major blow to Najib, who had his 12-year prison sentence halved and fines reduced in a ruling by a former king before the royal stepped down in January under a system of revolving monarchy. Najib had filed a request in April that the supplementary royal order, which had never been made public, should be carried out.

The developments may risk souring ties between Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the United Malays National Organisation — a party that’s a key member of his coalition. Najib retains significant influence in the party.

Anwar has repeatedly denied interfering in court cases and investigations involving Najib. The prime minister had to call for calm amid public backlash when the former king commuted part of Najib’s sentences. There is a by-election this Saturday and the revived interest in Najib’s case is likely to be fodder for both sides of the political divide.

Najib has been in jail since August 2022 after he was found guilty of corruption while he was in power and chairing the advisory board of 1MDB, known as 1Malaysia Development Bhd. He was accused of transferring 42 million ringgit ($8.9 million) from a 1MDB subsidiary to his personal account between 2014 and 2015.

The 70-year-old politician remains on trial for dozens of other criminal charges related to the wealth fund, and has repeatedly maintained his innocence.

(Updates with details throughout.)

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