Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad told Reuters on 19 June that there is an "almost perfect case" against suspects in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, including former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak
Reuters reported Mahathir as saying that investigators already have "an almost perfect case" against suspects who committed fraud and misappropriated billions of dollars with 1MDB. Najib was named by the Prime Minister for playing a central role in the scandal, together with financier Jho Low, and a few others.
"He (Najib) was totally responsible for 1MDB. Nothing can be done without his signature, and we have his signature on all the deals entered into by 1MDB," Mahathir was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Mahathir added that authorities are looking to indict Najib with embezzlement and bribery with government money, among other charges
"They (the charges) could include embezzlement, stealing government money, losing government money, and a number of other charges," Mahathir said.
The Prime Minister also revealed that Najib's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor is under investigation as well.
"Some of the money is believed to have gone to her, lots of money... but finding the paper trail is a bit more difficult in this case because she doesn't sign any papers. Najib signs a lot of papers," Mahathir added.
Mahathir expects the government to make its first arrest within months, and hopefully start a trial by the end of 2018. He also stressed that the government will have clear evidence of the suspects' wrongdoing when they are taken to court.
"We cannot afford to lose," Mahathir added.
Najib is just one of the many state leaders who were accused of corruption and collusion in recent years. Here's what happened to some of them:
1. South Korea: Park Geun-Hye (Impeached)
Former president Park Geun-hye was found guilty of abuse of power and coercion along with multiple corruption charges, according to a BBC report back in April.
Park was convicted of colluding with her childhood friend, Choi Soon-sil on a few accounts:
- Conglomerates such as Samsung and Lotte were pressured to give millions of dollars to foundations run by Choi,
- Companies were forced to sign lucrative deals with firms owned by Choi, and to donate gifts to her and her daughter, and
- Confidential presidential documents were leaked to Choi.
She was sentenced to 24 years in jail, and fined KRW18 billion (approximately RM65.2 million).
Prior to her conviction, 234 of the 300-member National Assembly voted in favour of Park's impeachment and a temporary suspension of her presidential powers and duties, according to New York Times. The impeachment was then upheld by the Constitutional Court of Korea in a unanimous 8-0 decision.
BBC reported Park as accusing the courts of being biased against her, and boycotted her trial hearings. Furthermore, she claimed to be not guilty, and vowed to appeal against her sentence.
2. Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe (Resigned)
Former president Robert Mugabe was accused of being responsible for economic mismanagement, rampant corruption, and human rights abuses. Under his rule, a 100-trillion-dollar note was worth approximately RM1.60.
German media Deutsche Welle (DW) reported that Mugabe owns properties worth over EUR52 million (approximately RM240.4 million) in Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, and England. His family is also estimated to be worth EUR844 million (approximately RM3.9 billion).
His wife, Grace Mugabe was known as "Gucci Grace" for her lavish dress style. She allegedly sued a jeweller after she failed to receive a diamond ring she ordered for her wedding anniversary, which was worth EUR1 million (approximately RM4.6 million).
Former finance minister Tendai Biti told DW that corruption in Zimbabwe was not only limited to the Mugabe family.
"My problem was not only the millions that Mugabe had stolen, but the billions that disappeared in other channels... we know that about USD15 billion disappeared during my tenure (2009-2013) alone," Biti was quoted as saying by DW.
The country's ruling party, Zanu-PF began impeachment proceedings last year on charges that Mugabe allowed Grace to "usurp constitutional power", according to BBC. This was a result of the removal of ex-vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a move which was perceived by the Zimbabwean military as an attempt to pave the way for Grace to become the next president.
However, Mugabe resigned from office after 37 years following a coup d'état (an illegal overthrow of the state by the military or other elites) in November last year. His letter of resignation came right after Zimbabwe's parliament met for his impeachment.
3. Brazil: Dilma Rousseff (Impeached)
In 2016, former president Dilma Rousseff was impeached by the Brazillian Senate in a 61-20 vote after she was found guilty of violating the country's budget laws by trying to hide the magnitude of Brazil's deficit problem. However, Vox reported that the charge was just the surface of a more important problem — the Petrobras scandal.
Rousseff headed the state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras), which was found to be involved in a USD5.3 billion scandal (approximately RM21 billion) by Brazil's federal police, prosecutors, and judges. A cartel was created to bid on Petrobras contracts, and ultimately overcharge the oil firm. Profits made were used to bribe employees of Petrobras as well as some politicians.
The irony in this scandal is that Rousseff's party, the leftist Workers' Party (PT), was well-known for cleanliness and standing up against corruption. New York Times reported that her predecessor and mentor, ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was sentenced to almost 10 years in jail for corruption and money laundering last year.
After her impeachment, she was reported by Indian media Livemint as saying that her ouster was "fraudulent" and "a coup".
"I may have made mistakes but I did not commit any crime," Rousseff said in 2016.
While these state leaders experienced different trajectories to their demise, Najib's fate with the 1MDB scandal remains unknown as he will "hopefully" be facing charges from the government by the end of this year, as told by Mahathir
Mahathir's statement on charging Najib came after a report by The Star on 18 June regarding eminent lawyers being recruited by the parties involved in the 1MDB scandal.
The prosecution team includes newly-appointed Attorney General (A-G) Tommy Thomas, and former A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail. On the other hand, Najib has reportedly hired a legal team led by John Ashcroft, a former US A-G under ex-president George Bush from 2001 to 2005.
A legal battle between the government and 1MDB suspects seems to be approaching within months. Najib, along with the people of Malaysia, will soon find out its outcome.
In other news, we're doing pretty good so far after a regime change. Here's how our neighbours fared after theirs: