Malaysia’s former first lady Rosmah Mansor charged with corruption over solar energy deal; Najib Razak loses bid for gag order

The wife of Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak was Wednesday hit with a new corruption charge and complained she was the victim of “slander”.
Rosmah Mansor – widely reviled in Malaysia due to her penchant for lavish overseas shopping sprees – was charged with accepting a bribe in relation to a government solar power project.
She pleaded not guilty to accepting a 5 million ringgit (US$1.2 million) payment through her aide from a manager at Jepak Holdings as a kickback for helping secure a contract from the Education Ministry.

The ministry awarded Jepak Holdings the 1.25-billion ringgit contract to supply and install solar energy panels in 369 schools in eastern Sarawak state on Borneo without open tender.

After the trial, Rosmah told reporters that she had been “slandered”.

“People chose to listen to all the lies, to all the untrue stories that have been told,” she said. “I will remain patient and face all the trials and tribulations which Allah has made go through.”

Rosmah also has 19 other charges of money-laundering and tax evasion linked to the looting of sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that led to her husband’s electoral loss last May.
Najib, his former deputy and several high-ranking former officials have already been charged with corruption after the election ushered in the first change of power since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957.

The disgraced former leader on Wednesday lost four appeals related to the financial scandal, among which was a bid for a gag order to prevent the press or anyone from discussing the case, local media reported.

Najib and Rosmah’s lavish lifestyles came to symbolise the rot in Malaysia’s ruling elite.

Following the election, police discovered valuables, including cash, jewellery and luxury handbags, worth up to US$273 million in properties linked to the couple.
Najib, whose first trial began last week after months of delay, has accused the new government of seeking political vengeance. But Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said the court cases were based on the rule of law and that those accused will be given fair trials.