Kuwait sentences five people in 1MDB corruption case

A French businessman of Syrian descent and a Kuwaiti lawyer were sentenced

A 1MDB billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur in 2015. Reuters
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A Kuwaiti criminal court has sentenced five people, including Malaysian businessman and financier Low Taek Jho, to up to 10 years in prison for their involvement in money laundering cases as part of the worldwide Malaysian state fund 1MDB scandal.

The court on Tuesday sentenced two Kuwaiti defendants to 10 years in prison in relation to the more than $4.5 billion 1MDB scandal at the 1Malaysia Development Berhad state investment fund.

Mr Low, the fugitive Malaysian businessman and financier, was sentenced in his absence.

A French businessman of Syrian descent and a Kuwaiti lawyer were also sentenced.

They were convicted of laundering $1 billion sent by the Malaysian convict using a Kuwaiti bank account and then transferring the money to Swiss bank accounts.

The court ordered them to return $1 billion and fined them $473 million (145 million Kuwaiti dinars).

Under former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, the country’s sovereign fund was systematically embezzled for a total of $4.5 billion.

According to Kuwaiti reports, the court’s ruling on Tuesday is not final as it can be appealed before the court of appeals and the court of cassation, the highest in the country.

Razak began a 12-year prison term in August after losing his final appeal in the first of several corruption trials related to the 1MDB scandal.

The former prime minister and his associates were found guilty of stealing $4.5 billion from 1MDB in a fraud that stretched from Switzerland to the Seychelles.

The money was used to fund a global shopping spree — a $250-million superyacht, high-end real estate and Monet and Vincent van Gogh artworks were among the items bought with cash plundered from public coffers.

Updated: March 29, 2023, 11:30 AM