Malaysia’s Pardons Board announces decision to cut Najib’s jail term from 12 to 6 years

Malaysia’s Pardons Board announces decision to cut Najib’s jail term from 12 to 6 years

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Pardons Board has announced that former prime minister Najib Razak’s jail sentence for corruption has been reduced from 12 to six years.

The official announcement on Friday (Feb 2) comes after the Pardons Board met on Jan 29.

CNA reported on Jan 31, citing sources including senior government officials, that Najib will have his jail term halved and fine reduced under a partial royal pardon.

Najib, 70, has served less than two years of his prison term for his role in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case.

With the reduction in the jail term, Najib has agreed that he will be released on Aug 23, 2028, the statement said. 

The Pardons Board also reduced his RM210 million (US$44.5 million) fine to RM50 million.

But if the fine is not paid, one year will be added to Najib’s prison sentence and he will be released on Aug 23, 2029, the Board added.

Speculation about a potential pardon went into overdrive after Dr Zaliha Mustafa, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Federal Territories), confirmed on Tuesday that the board had met on Monday.

The meeting was one of Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin’s last official tasks before he stepped down as Malaysia’s king on Jan 31 and handed the role to Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar under the country’s unique rotation system for its nine royal state households.

Najib was Malaysia’s prime minister for nine years until May 2018 and its first PM to be imprisoned. He began serving his jail term in August 2022 after two failed appeals to overturn his conviction at a Malaysian High Court two years earlier.

The charges involved the transfer of RM42 million from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB, into his personal bank accounts in 2014 and 2015.

He was found guilty of three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of power by the High Court in July 2020, and was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million. The fine remains unsettled.

He is also facing several other charges in relation to the 1MDB scandal, including the laundering of RM27 million involving funds from SRC International.

Najib’s lawyers have applied to dismiss this money laundering case, and the court has said he can apply for an acquittal, or a discharge not amounting to an acquittal if prosecutors are not prepared to proceed with the trial in September, local media reported.

An ex-United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president, he is still believed to wield huge influence in the party, which is part of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government.