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1MDB scandal: ex-PM Najib Razak’s 12-year prison sentence halved by Malaysia’s pardons board


The legacy of Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal on politics and corruption-fighting

The 70-year-old “was given a 50 per cent reduction for the punishment and fines to be paid”, the pardons board said in its statement, adding it had “been agreed” that he should be granted early release no later than August 23, 2028, with his 210 million-ringgit (US$44.4 million) fine reduced to 50 million ringgit.

Najib could now be eligible for release next year under Malaysia’s Prisons Act, which says prisoners can apply for parole after serving half of their sentence. He will hit half of the revised six-year tariff at the end of 2025.

“Feudalism plays a part in making sure some entrenched interest gets the better of society,” Jalil Rasheed, the former chief executive of state investment fund PNB, posted on X.

“Reminder that taxes you’re paying are going toward the mess that’s been created.”

“Embarrassing,” said Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz, acting president of the Muda party. “Don’t be picky in fighting corruption. Today’s government is like a sinking ship.”

The US Department of Justice described the multibillion-dollar scandal at 1MDB, the state fund founded in 2009 just months after Najib became prime minister, as the largest case of kleptocracy ever uncovered.

The scandal eventually led to the first-ever electoral loss for Najib’s Umno party in 2018, followed by the spectacular downfall of the British-educated one-time political star.

Police and anti-corruption officers raided premises linked to Najib and his family, seizing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of luxury handbags, thousands of pieces of jewellery and watches and cash in 26 different currencies.

Najib was convicted in 2020 of seven counts of corruption and abuse of power involving 42