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Malaysia fails to appeal against ex-PM Najib’s acquittal in 1MDB audit tampering case

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian prosecutors have not appealed against the acquittal of former prime minister Najib Razak in a case of audit tampering related to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), his lawyers said on Tuesday, risking backlash for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim who has vowed to fight graft.

Mr Anwar is already under pressure from allies and the opposition after his government last week dropped dozens of graft charges against a key ally whose support is essential for the Premier to keep his parliamentary majority.

Najib, 70, is serving a 12-year jail sentence for another corruption case linked to 1MDB. He also faces several other graft charges.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers was expected to appeal against Najib’s acquittal earlier in 2023 of a charge of abusing his position as prime minister to amend a government audit into 1MDB.

But Najib’s lawyers at Shafee & Co said in a statement that “the prosecution evidently found no grounds for appeal” and did not file the petition.

Najib had pleaded not guilty.

An estimated US$4.5 billion (S$6.1 billion) was allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates between 2009 and 2014, the US Justice Department has alleged.

Mr Anwar, who came to power in November 2022, vowed to fight corruption as part of his election campaign. But concerns were raised after he partnered with Najib’s corruption-tainted party to form a government and appointed officials accused of graft to senior positions.

The Malaysian United Democratic Alliance on Sunday said it was leaving Mr Anwar’s ruling coalition, citing concerns after graft charges were dropped against Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Mr Anwar has maintained that the move to drop the case, which triggered a widespread public backlash, was made without his interference. REUTERS

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