Malaysia’s highest court on Tuesday ruled unanimously against a decision to convict former Prime Minister Najib Razak of 1MDB-related charges, effectively reversing Najib’s recent loss in the election and potentially confirming that the state fund is a major thorn in Najib’s side.
The ruling cleared Najib’s name of all charges he faced in relation to 1MDB, which critics say cost Malaysia billions of dollars.
At the moment, all four official charges against Najib are stayed, and the new National Front government will be able to review any appeal. It may also decide to drop or even amend the charges.
The Bernama news agency quoted a member of Najib’s legal team, Muhamad Ali Awang, as saying: “If the government thought that this was a good idea, then it could even drop the charges, which means it has been vindicated.”
Muhamad Ali was not immediately available for comment.
Two long-serving lawmakers of Najib’s own party were convicted of bribery and sentenced to prison this month. Both cases were linked to 1MDB, though they had been on the government’s list of cases that should have been resolved long ago.
Najib’s loss to Mahathir Mohamad in a May election ended his rule, which followed a long period in which the nation had been under his father’s rule. Najib is under investigation on allegations that he amassed vast wealth using stolen state funds.
The new government, led by Mahathir, froze or scrapped several of Najib’s flagship policies and summoned Najib several times for questioning about 1MDB.
The current government reopened investigations into the fund after accusations it was used to buy a Manhattan property, a mansion in Beverly Hills and fine artworks.
Najib and his supporters have argued that the federal government is trying to drag his name through the mud to tarnish his reputation and sideline him as part of its crackdown on dissent.