MALAYSIA: Rosmah Mansor, the spouse of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, was convicted guilty of soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange for a government contract by a Kuala Lumpur court.
Before this, Rosmah Mansor had entered a plea of not guilty to three counts totalling 194 million ringgit ($43 million; £37 million) that were connected to a solar energy project in Sarawak.
A High Court judge, however, declared the former first lady guilty of these allegations on Thursday.
The verdict was handed down just days after her husband Razak started his 12-year prison term for corruption.
17 further counts of money laundering and tax evasion remain against Rosmah. She entered a not guilty plea to these allegations.
The 70-year-old is well known for her affinity for designer clothing and jewellery. The couple’s houses were searched by Malaysian authorities in 2018, and they discovered a $1.6 million gold and diamond necklace, 14 tiaras, and 272 Hermes bags.
According to the prosecution, Rosmah demanded a bribe of 187.5 million ringgit and received 6.5 million ringgit from a representative of a business that won the bid for the 1.25 billion ringgit solar energy project.
Rosmah could ask the Kuala Lumpur High Court to postpone the sentence. She has claimed that she was set up by her former aide and other project-related authorities.
On Wednesday, her legal team submitted a last-ditch effort to have the presiding judge removed. They claimed that she lost faith in the judge’s ability to hear the case fairly as a result of an alleged leaked document that claimed her guilt had been established beforehand.
Judge Zaini Mazlan, however, denied the request for recusal, stating that the prosecution’s case was beyond a reasonable doubt.
After Razak’s unexpected election loss in May 2018, the police carried out a raid on the couple’s Kuala Lumpur home and found 284 designer handbags still in their boxes and piled high on shopping trolleys.
Some of these handbags cost thousands of dollars. Rosmah’s reputation as a Malaysian Imelda Marcos or even a Lady Macbeth figure was cemented in the public’s mind. Since losing power, she and Razak have hardly ever been spotted together.
She has maintained a low profile although he has spent the four years it has taken him to go through trials and appeals rehabilitating his reputation as a champion of the Malay community. He has also relentlessly campaigned as his party, UMNO, has gained back much of its political base since the election.
Although it’s still unclear how significant of a part Rosmah played in the scandal, it’s easy to despise her now, and few people will lament her criminal conviction.
Inquiries against Razak and his wife’s alleged involvement in the state-owned wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad have spread across six nations.
During his time as premier, Razak established 1MDB to transform Kuala Lumpur into a financial centre and bolster the economy through clever investments.
However, it began to draw criticism in early 2015 after missing payments totalling some of the $11 billion it owed to banks and bondholders.
A court found Razak guilty in 2020 on seven counts related to the transfer of 42 million ringgit from SRC International, a former division of 1MDB, into his accounts.He received a 12-year prison term and a 210 million ringgit fine last Tuesday.