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Malaysian jailed ex-leader Najib acquitted of audit tampering charge

Malaysian jailed ex-leader Najib acquitted of audit tampering charge
March 3, 2023 Web Desk

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Jailed former prime minister Najib Razak was acquitted of an audit tampering charge, a judge said Friday, but will continue to serve his 12-year prison term from another case.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said state prosecutors failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove their case that Najib tampered with an official audit report on scandal-wracked state fund 1MDB.

Najib's co-accused, former 1MDB chief Arul Kanda Kandasamy, was also acquitted.

"The first accused (Arul Kanda) is discharged and acquitted from the charge. The second accused (Najib) is discharged and acquitted against the charge made against him," the judge said in court.

The charge dismissed Friday focused on allegations that Najib ordered a report on the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund by the government's official audit body to be altered in February 2016.

He was allegedly assisted by Arul Kanda, who was president and chief executive of the fund at the time.

Najib, 69, was brought to court Friday from Kajang Prison, where he is currently serving a 12-year jail sentence for corruption linked to the plunder of 1MDB's funds.

His acquittal from the tampering charge does not affect his current jail sentence.

Friday's court ruling eased the pressure on Najib, but the former leader still faces dozens more charges, which could lengthen his stay in prison.

Most of the charges are related to his alleged role in the 1MDB financial scandal, which had led to investigations around the world -- including in the US, Switzerland and Singapore -- for the use of their financial systems to launder the looted money.