Malaysian court to deliver verdict in corruption trial of former PM Najib's wife Rosmah

Rosmah Mansor (centre) arrives for the verdict in her corruption trial at the high court in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 1, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
Rosmah Mansor leaves after attending her husband's second trial at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex on Aug 25, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
Rosmah Mansor (centre) arrives at the Federal Court in Putrajaya for her husband's appeal on Aug 23, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Malaysia prime minister Najib Razak, arrived in court on Thursday to hear the verdict on charges against her of seeking bribes in exchange for government contracts, just days after her husband was jailed for corruption.

Najib and his wife, who has faced criticism for her lavish lifestyle, are at the centre of a wide-ranging crackdown on corruption mounted after his administration was voted out in a historic 2018 election.

Last week, Najib began serving a 12-year jail sentence after Malaysia's top court upheld his conviction in a case linked to a multibillion-dollar graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). He remains on trial in four other corruption cases.

Rosmah, 70, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of soliciting and receiving bribes between 2016 and 2017 to help a company secure a US$279 million (S$390 million) solar power supply project from the government when her husband was in power.

Prosecutors say Rosmah sought a bribe of RM187.5 million (S$59 million), and received RM6.5 million from an official of the company that won the project.

The charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of at least five times the amount, though Rosmah could seek a stay on sentencing by the Kuala Lumpur High Court pending appeals to higher courts.

Rosmah has argued that she was framed by her former aide as well as several government and company officials involved in the project.

She arrived at Kuala Lumpur High Court dressed in a yellow baju kurung, a traditional Malaysian long blouse and skirt, and matching head scarf and mask.

She did not speak to reporters.

In a last minute bid to postpone the verdict, Rosmah filed an application in court to recuse the judge overseeing her trial, arguing that a judgement on it was allegedly leaked and posted online last week. 

The High Court will likely hear the application before delivering its decision, a prosecutor told Reuters.

She also faces 17 charges of money laundering and tax evasion for illegally receiving RM7.1 million ringgit between 2013 and 2017 in a separate case. That trial has not yet commenced pending efforts by Rosmah to recuse the presiding judge.

SPH Brightcove Video
The wife of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been charged with 17 money laundering offences, as anti-graft agents investigate billions of dollars missing from state coffers.

Najib's election defeat came amid public outrage over the 1MDB scandal, which is the subject of corruption and money laundering investigations in at least six countries.

The US Department of Justice allege that US$4.5 billion were stolen from 1MDB, about US$1 billion of which made their way into Najib's personal bank accounts.

Some of the funds stolen from 1MDB were used to buy jewellery, including a US$27 million rare pink diamond necklace for Rosmah, US lawsuits say.

Malaysia police seized cash and luxury items including jewellery and handbags valued at over S$300 million from residences linked to ex-Malaysian premier Najib Razak. ST PHOTO: NADIRAH H. RODZI
Police carting away boxes containing luxury handbags, jewellery, cash of various denominations, watches and other valuables from a condominium owned by former prime minister Najib Razak’s family. PHOTO: ST FILE

Najib and Rosmah have said they never demanded, requested, or intended to purchase the necklace.

Malaysian police seized around US$275 million in cash and jewellery, handbags, watches and other luxury goods in raids on homes linked to the couple in 2018. REUTERS

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.