Wife of jailed former Malaysian PM sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption

The wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for soliciting and receiving bribes in exchange for government contracts, a week after her husband was sent to prison for corruption linked to the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal.

Rosmah Mansor, 70, had pleaded not guilty to three counts of soliciting bribes and receiving 6.5million ringgit (£1.3million) in exchange for helping a company to obtain a contract to supply solar energy to schools.

High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said prosecutors had proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge added that his defense was “pure and baseless denial”.

Rosmah also faces a fine of 970 million ringgits. She can apply for bail while she appeals the judgment.

Thursday’s verdict comes just over a week after Najib began a 12-year sentence for breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering in a conviction related to the 1MDB scandal, one of the biggest financial frauds in the world.

Najib and Rosmah have faced various charges since losing an election in 2018 amid public anger over massive corruption under his administration.

In the aftermath of their election defeat, the couple sought to leave the country on a private jet, according to a leaked flight manifest at the time. They were banned from traveling by the country’s then leader, Mahathir Mohamad.

Police raids on several properties linked to Najib have revealed further details about their opulent lifestyle. Police seized hundreds of designer handbags, including 272 Hermès bags valued at nearly $13 million, along with 1,400 necklaces, 423 watches, 2,200 rings, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras.

Rosmah’s corruption case is unrelated to the 1MDB scandal.

Prosecutors had argued that Rosmah had influence over government spending, despite having no official position, and helped a company win a 1.25 billion ringgit contract to supply energy panels solar to schools in Borneo.

They accused Rosmah of asking for a 187.5 million ringgit bribe and receiving 6.5 million ringgit from an official at the company that won the project in 2016 and 2017.

Her former assistant, who was jointly accused of Rosmah but later testified for the prosecution, described her as an influential figure often sought after by businessmen seeking government contracts. The assistant testified that Rosmah was feared by officials and that requests from her staff were often carried out quickly.

Witnesses said a special department, called the First Lady of Malaysia, had been set up to handle Rosmah’s affairs. The court heard she spent 100,000 ringgit a month hiring online propagandists to deflect criticism of her lavish lifestyle, the Associated Press reported.

Rosmah said she was mentored by her former assistant as well as government and company officials involved in the project.

Najib is being held in the country’s largest prison at Kajang, which can hold up to 5,000 prisoners. The Department of Prisons has denied claims that VIP inmates benefited from more comfortable living conditions, such as air conditioning and access to television and the internet.

His daughter, Nooryana Najwa, was mocked on social media this week after she allegedly lamented that her father missed his usual Starbucks order. She said on Instagram that she couldn’t cope with the chain’s order because she knew her dad, stuck in jail, would miss his caramel macchiato. Some responded online saying they would make sure to buy the drink the next day.

Najib faces four other corruption cases. Rosmah also faces 17 charges of money laundering and tax evasion for illegally receiving RM7.1 million between 2013 and 2017 in a separate 1MDB-related case, although his trial has yet to begin.

The 1MDB scandal has sparked corruption investigations around the world, including in the United States, Singapore and Switzerland.

Wife of jailed former Malaysian PM sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption

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