KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A massive financial scandal linked to the 1MDB wealth sovereign fund helped sink former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s political career and ended the six-decade rule of his coalition in 2018 national elections. Najib was found guilty Tuesday in his first corruption trial over the multibillion-dollar looting of 1MDB.
A timeline of how the saga unfolded:
April 3, 2009: Najib is sworn in as Malaysia’s sixth prime minister.
July 2009: 1MDB is formed with Najib as advisory board chairman.
July 2015: A report by The Wall Street Journal alleges that nearly $700 million of 1MDB money has been channeled into Najib’s personal bank accounts. Najib denies the allegations. He fires his then-critical deputy Muhyiddin Yassin and terminates the attorney general who was investigating him. A whistle-blowing website is blocked and two newspapers are suspended over their reporting on the scandal.
Aug, 29-30, 2015: Thousands of Malaysians rally in Kuala Lumpur to demand Najib’s resignation.
Jan. 26, 2016: New Attorney General Apandi Ali clears Najib of any wrongdoing, saying the money in his bank accounts was a donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family.
Jul. 21, 2016: The U.S. Justice Department initiates moves to recover over $1 billion that investigators say was stolen from 1MDB by associates of Najib and used to buy assets.
May 9, 2018: Najib’s National Front coalition, which had ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957, loses in a general election. A reformist opposition alliance takes power, with nonagenarian Mahathir Mohamad making a comeback as prime minister for a second time.
May 10-June 2018: Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, are banned from leaving the country, and the new government reopens investigations into 1MDB. Police seize cash and thousands of luxury items, from jewelry to handbags, from premises linked to Najib, worth up to 1.1 billion ringgit ($259 million).
July 4, 2018: Najib is charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of abusing his power.