By HADIZA MOHAMMED
KUALA LUMPUR- A Malaysian court on Thursday sentenced Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, to ten years in prison for seeking and receiving bribes in exchange for government contracts.
The judgement came just days after her husband was jailed for corruption.
Rosmah Mansor and Najib Razak, have been the focus of multiple graft investigations since Najib’s surprise election defeat in 2018, when voters’ anger over a separate, multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal ended his nine years in power.
A flamboyant figure by Najib’s side, Rosmah was widely scorned in Malaysia for her extravagant lifestyle and penchant for Hermes Birkin bags, and faced repeated questions over her influence in government matters.
Rosmah will also have to pay a fine of 970 million ringgit ($216.45 million), a record amount in Malaysia’s history over three bribery charges, Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said, adding that the prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
She will remain free on bail pending appeals to higher courts.
Rosmah, dressed in a yellow baju kurung a traditional Malaysian long blouse and skirt and matching headscarf, addressed the judge tearfully immediately after the verdict.
“I must admit that I’m very sad with what happened today. Nobody saw me taking the money, nobody saw me counting the money but if that’s the conclusion, I leave it to God.”
Her lawyers had asked for a one-day jail sentence, while prosecutors sought “maximum or near maximum.”
Rosmah, 70, had pleaded not guilty to the three charges of soliciting and receiving bribes between 2016 and 2017 to help a company secure a 279 million dollars’ solar power supply project from Najib’s government.
Prosecutors said Rosmah sought a bribe of 187.5 million ringgit ($41.80 million), and received 6.5 million ringgit from an official of the company that won the project.
Rosmah has argued that she was framed by her former aide as well as several government and company officials involved in the project.
She also faces 17 charges of money laundering and tax evasion in a separate case. (Reuters/NAN)