After a week of rumour and speculation, the Pardons Board of Malaysia has finally disclosed its decision regarding the pardon application of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
On Friday (2 February), the Pardons Board declared a reduction in Najib’s initial 12-year jail term, halving it to six years.
Consequently, this adjustment implies an earlier potential release date of 23 August 2028.
Furthermore, the Pardons Board has opted to diminish his original RM210 million (approximately US$44.5 million) fine to RM50 million (approximately (US$10.6 million)), with the condition that his early release is contingent upon the full payment of this revised amount.
“If he fails to pay the (RM50 million) fine, a year will be added to Najib’s sentence, which means he would be released on 23 August 2029.”
In a statement, the secretariat of the Federal Territories Pardons Board said Najib’s application was among five it deliberated on when it met on Monday (29 January).
This partial royal pardon is related to Najib’s involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case, and it comes after he served more than one year and five months at Kajang Prison since 2022.
However, considering parole for good behaviour, there is a possibility of his release as early as August 2026, having completed two-thirds of the revised jail term.
An earlier report by Utusan Malaysia had indicated that the Pardons Board convened on the mentioned day, chaired by the then 16th Malaysian King, Al-Sultan Abdullah Riáyatuddin Mustafa Billah Shah.
As the Pahang ruler concluded his term as the country’s 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, assumed the role of the 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong for a five-year term starting 31 January.
The Malay language news outlet on Tuesday issued an apology over the article claiming that the former PM had been granted a royal pardon.
Public concerns grow over the fate of Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor in ongoing 1MDB cases
On 23 August 2022, Najib Razak was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined RM210 million after being found guilty of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case.
Malaysians had waited for 4 years after Najib was first charged in 2018 to the date the Federal Court finally rejected his final appeals on 23 August 2022.
Najib’s lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, previously stated that a pardon application was initially submitted in September 2022, with subsequent addendums to the petition filed in October of that year and in April 2023.
In September 2023, Malaysia’s Court of Appeal upheld the acquittal of Najib Razak on an audit tampering charge in the investigation into corruption at the 1MDB state wealth fund.
Najib was acquitted in March after a Kuala Lumpur High Court judge ruled prosecutors failed to provide sufficient evidence that he had tampered with an audit report on scandal-racked 1MDB.
That charge focused on allegations that Najib ordered a report by the government’s official audit body on the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund to be altered in February 2016.
Najib’s acquittal from the tampering charge does not affect his current jail sentence and he faces dozens more charges that could lengthen that term.
Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor was found guilty of graft in 2022 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
She remains on bail pending an appeal.
The potential for Najib Razak’s remaining three cases related to 1MDB and income tax, as well as Rosmah Mansor’s RM7.1 million money laundering and tax evasion case, to face similar outcomes, has raised alarms among the Malaysian public.
Civil society group in Malaysia in October last year warned that if Najib and Rosmah are released from corruption charges, it could have detrimental consequences, damaging Malaysia’s rule of law and deterring global investors.
They called for a temporary halt to applications for Discharge Not Amounting to Acquittal (DNAA) or complete acquittals in cases involving politicians.
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