On Thursday, October 25, Najib Razak, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, as well as former Treasury secretary-general, Irwan Serigar Abdulla, were charged with criminal breach of trust involving government funds of 6.6 billion ringgit (US$1.58 billion/ S $2.181 billion).
The two men have pleaded not-guilty to all the charges leveled against them.
Should Messrs. Najib and Irwan be found guilty, they could face a jail sentence of up to 20 years as well as a considerable fine. Since both men are over the age of 50, they are exempt from the whipping penalty that accompanies a guilty conviction.
Prosecutors in the case allege that Messrs. Najib and Irwan committed a breach of trust with the following public funds:
1.3 billion ringgit (US$ 312 million/ S $431 million) allotted for a subsidy and cash aid program
220 million ringgit (US$ 53 million/ S $73 million) allotted for Kuala Lumpur International Airport Berhad
5.12 billion ringgit (US$ 123 billion/ S $170 billion) in other public funds
The former Prime Minister is already facing charges of breach of trust charges over transactions linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), as well as graft and money laundering.
Mr. Najib has pled not-guilty to all 32 charges leveled against him.
His trial has been scheduled for 2019.
The 1MDB scandal caused Mr. Najib’s coalition to lose in Malaysia’s elections last May. The former Prime Minister had founded 1MDB in 2009, and officials from the United States who are investigating the case say that US$ 4.5 billion (S$ 6.2 billion) had been taken from the fund, with around US $ 700 million (S$ 967 million) landing in the personal bank accounts of Mr. Najib.
The government of Malaysia has recently cracked down on corruption, with Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, former deputy prime minister, charged with 45 offences including accepting bribes and money laundering. He has also pleaded not guilty.
Other former government leaders have been charged with graft as well.