By Biodun Busari
The former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s wife, Rosmah Mansor has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for asking and receiving bribes in exchange for government contracts.
Mansor’s conviction is coming one week after her husband was jailed for corruption linked to the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal.
According to BBC, the 70-year-old ex-First Lady had pleaded not guilty to three charges of soliciting bribes and receiving 6.5m ringgit (approximately £1.3million) in exchange for helping a company secure a project to provide solar power to schools in Borneo.
The high court judge, on Thursday, Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said prosecutors proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mazlan added that her defence was “bare denial and unsubstantiated.”
Mansor also faces a fine of 970million ringgit but she can seek bail while she appeals the judgment.
The report says the verdict comes just over a week since Najib began a 12-year sentence for breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering in a conviction linked to the 1MDB scandal, one of the world’s biggest financial frauds.
Najib and Mansor have faced various charges since he lost an election in 2018 amid public anger over huge corruption during his administration.
In the aftermath of their election defeat, the couple wanted to leave the country by private jet, according to a flight manifesto leaked at the time.
They were, however, banned from travelling by the country’s then leader, Mahathir Mohamad.
Police raids on several properties linked to Najib revealed further details of their opulent lifestyles. Police seized hundreds of designer handbags, including 272 Hermès bags estimated to be worth nearly $13m, as well as 1,400 necklaces, 423 watches, 2,200 rings, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras.
The report states that Mansor’s corruption case is not related to the 1MDB scandal.
Prosecutors had argued Mansor used influence over government spending, despite having no official position, and helped a company secure a 1.25billion ringgit contract to provide solar energy panels to schools on Borneo.
They accused Mansor of seeking a bribe of 187.5million ringgit and receiving 6.5million ringgit from an official of the company that won the project in 2016 and 2017.
Her former aide, who was jointly charged with Mansor but later testified for the prosecution, described her as an influential figure who was often lobbied by businesspeople seeking government contracts.
While defending herself in court, Mansor has said she was framed by her former aide as well as government and company officials involved in the project.
Najib is being held at the country’s largest prison in Kajang, which holds up to 5,000 prisoners. The 1MDB scandal has led to corruption investigations around the world, including in the United States, Singapore and Switzerland.