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Former Malaysia PM convicted of stealing from 1MDB

A court in Malaysia convicted former Prime Minister Najib Razak Tuesday on seven counts for looting the sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, including money laundering, abuse of power, and criminal breach of trust.

The Malaysian High Court found Najib guilty of transferring about $10 million from a 1MDB affiliate called SRC International into his personal bank accounts.

Najib, who served as prime minister from 2009, was driven from office by the scandal in 2018.

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that Najib deposited about $700 million from 1MDB into his personal accounts. He has always denied the allegations.

He faces more trials in Malaysia on at least 35 additional corruption charges.

The judge Tuesday imposed a 12-year prison sentence on Najib, 67, but suspended it during any appeals.

Last week, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. agreed to pay the Malaysian government $2.5 billion for its alleged fraud connected to 1MDB. Goldman also guaranteed that Malaysia will recover $1.4 billion in assets looted from 1MDB.

As part of the settlement, Malaysian authorities agreed to withdraw pending criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and 17 current and former Goldman executives.

Goldman units acted as arrangers or purchasers of $6.5 billion of debt securities of 1MDB. The bank still faces pending FCPA investigations in the United States.

The former chairman of Goldman Sachs in Southeast Asia, Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty in the United States in 2018 to two counts of conspiring to launder money and violate the FCPA for his role in the 1MDB scandal.

Leissner bribed “various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials” and circumvented Goldman’s internal accounting controls, the DOJ said.

He forfeited nearly $44 million as part of his plea and could be jailed up to 25 years when sentenced.

Leissner resigned from Goldman Sachs in February 2016.

In court filings, the DOJ alleged that more than $4.5 billion was looted from 1MDB between 2009 and 2015 “by high-level officials” of the fund and their associates. Najib was chairman of 1MDB while he was prime minister.

The DOJ recovered more than $700 million in assets from Jho Low, an associate of Najib and the alleged mastermind of the 1MDB fraud. Low is a fugitive and has not admitted wrongdoing.

Malaysian police arrested Najib in 2018 at his mansion in Kuala Lumpur and initially charged him with the $10 million 1MDB theft. They seized about $273 million in cash, jewelry, and other valuables from houses and condos he owned with his wife, Rosmah Mansor.

As prime minister, Najib was paid a fixed salary of about $5,600 a month.

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