KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia is set to make a decision this month on jailed former prime minister Najib Razak’s application for a royal pardon, broadcaster Channel News Asia said on Wednesday.
The former premier is serving a 12-year jail term for graft linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), from which U.S. and Malaysian investigators estimate $4.5 billion was stolen, with more than $1 billion channeled to accounts linked to Najib, who has always maintained his innocence.
The Pardons Board, which advises Malaysia’s king and includes the attorney-general and government officials, is set to meet in the third week of January and is likely to decide on Najib’s application for a royal pardon, CNA said.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.
Government spokesperson Fahmi Fadzil, who is the communications minister, declined direct comment on the report, telling reporters any decision on Najib’s application was the prerogative of the king and the Pardons Board.
The office of the attorney-general, a member of the Board, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The king plays a largely ceremonial role in Malaysia but can pardon convicted people among discretionary powers granted by the federal constitution.
In 2018, then King Sultan Muhammad V pardoned current Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, imprisoned at the time on charges of sodomy and corruption that he says were politically motivated.
First convicted in 2020, Najib started his prison term in August 2022 after Malaysia’s top court rejected his final appeal, making him the first premier in the country’s history to be jailed. He also faces other trials on corruption charges.
Should Najib’s bid for a royal pardon be granted, it could shorten his sentence, and raise further doubts on Anwar’s commitment to fighting graft.
(Reporting by Danial Azhar and Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)