Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is due to stand trial tomorrow for his suspected role in a corruption scandal, in which billions of dollars of Malaysian state money was stolen.
The scandal began in 2009, when Najib set up a government fund, titled the 1Malaysia Development Berhad, which was meant to attract foreign investment into the country.
Instead, the billions of dollars allocated for the fund were stolen. It is alleged that about a quarter of the money went into Najib’s personal bank account, and Najib used it to pay off politicians, and go on wild shopping sprees with his wife.
But even wilder was Jho Low, a friend of Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz. He allegedly took billions of dollars from the fund, using it to buy expensive property in New York City, US$8,1 million in jewellery, a glass piano for Australian model Miranda Kerr, a Picasso painting and Oscar statuette for Leonardo Di Caprio, and luxury yachts on which he hosted parties for many other celebrities. But most ironic of all, he is the man who financed The Wolf of Wall Street. An arrest warrant is out for Low – who is currently in hiding.
The scandal investigation is still ongoing, and at the moment detectives are working in 12 different countries. In the US, two bankers have been charged for planning to launder billions of dollars in stolen state funds. “Laundering” is a way of moving large amounts of money around to hide the fact that they have been obtained illegally.