Rosmah Mansor, wife of the ex-Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak has been sentenced to ten years in prison on each of three bribery charges.
Rosmah was found guilty on three charges of soliciting and receiving bribes to help a company win a 1.25bn ringgit project ($279m, £240m), BBC reports.
The High Court said the jail terms would run concurrently.
It comes days after her husband began serving a 12-year jail sentence for corruption.
The 70-year-old is known for her love of luxury goods and jewellery. When Malaysian police raided the couple’s properties in 2018, they found a $1.6m gold and diamond necklace, 14 tiaras and 272 Hermes bags.
Rosmah, who had pleaded not guilty, sat quietly in the dock as High Court judge Zaini Mazlan delivered the verdict on Thursday afternoon.
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“I must admit that I’m very sad with what happened today,” she said tearfully to the judge after the verdict was delivered, according to a Reuters report.
“Nobody saw me taking the money, nobody saw me counting the money…. but if that’s the conclusion, I leave it to God.”
She has also been fined a total of 970m ringgit. However, it is unclear when she will start serving a prison sentence, as she has been granted a stay of execution pending her appeal.
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Rosmah still faces 17 other charges of money laundering and tax evasion. She has pleaded not guilty to these charges.
Prosecutors claimed Rosmah had sought a bribe of 187.5m ringgit and received 6.5m ringgit from an official of a company that won the bid for a solar energy project.
She had earlier argued that she was framed by her former aide as well as other officials involved in the project, but the judge called her defence “bare denial and unsubstantiated”.
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Her legal team had also filed a last-ditch application on Wednesday to get the presiding judge recused. They argued that an alleged leaked document which stated that her guilty verdict had been decided ahead of time had left her with no faith in the judge’s ability to hear the case fairly.
But Judge Mazlan dismissed the recusal application, saying the prosecution had proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The sentencing was praised by a Malaysian civil society group.
“Justice has been served for the people of Malaysia,” Mandeep Singh, former secretariat manager of Bersih 2.0 told the BBC.
“For the people of Malaysia, we can’t stop here. [Rosmah] can still appeal, but we hope that eventually she will join her husband in prison.”
A few people have been more vilified in Malaysia than Rosmah Mansor, who flaunted her love of luxury clothes and jewellery, and was known to exert a strong influence on her husband’s decisions.
When the police raided the couple’s home in Kuala Lumpur after Najib’s shock election defeat in May 2018, and came out wheeling shopping trolleys piled high with 284 designer handbags, still in their boxes, some costing many thousands of dollars, Rosmah’s reputation as a Malaysian Imelda Marcos, or even a Lady Macbeth figure, was fixed in the public’s imagination.
She and Najib have rarely been seen together since their fall from power.
She has kept a low profile even as he has used the four years that his trials and appeals have taken to rebuild his image as a champion of the Malay community, campaigning relentlessly as his party UMNO recovered much of its political support base since the election.
But there has been plenty of damaging testimony by witnesses in Najib’s trials – they said he spent heavily on jewellery for her, and that she was the crucial contact that allowed Jho Low, the fugitive financier accused of masterminding the massive 1MDB scandal, easy access to the prime minister.
Exactly how big Rosmah’s role was in the scandal is still unclear, but she has become an easy figure to hate, and few will mourn her criminal conviction.
Najib and his wife are at the centre of a sprawling investigation spanning six countries over their alleged involvement in state-owned wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
1MDB, set up by Mr Najib in 2009 during his tenure as premier, was meant to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments.
But it started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the $11bn it owed to banks and bondholders.
In 2020, a court found Najib guilty on seven counts – centred on a total of 42m ringgit which was transferred from SRC International – a former unit of 1MDB – into his private accounts.
He was sentenced last Tuesday to 12 years in jail and a fine of 210m ringgit.