Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak has gone on trial over allegations relating to alleged corruption involving the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
He has pleaded not guilty to seven charges in what is set to be the first of several criminal cases brought against him in relation to his alleged use of £522M from 1MDB.
The 1MDB fund was intended to strengthen Malaysia's economy by making strategic investments. But it is alleged that it was abused in order to finance expensive lifestyles. A superyacht that has just been resold for $126M, art works by Monet and Van Gogh, property in London, New York and California, a $27M 22-carat pink diamond necklace and even a Hollywood film are among some of the ways that an alleged $4.5 billion was illegally taken out of 1MDB and spent.
Mr Najib's lawyers tried to delay proceedings but the judge at the Kuala Lumpur court ruled against them. This trial had been due to start in February but was delayed until some related appeals had been heard. It is the first major trial in relation to the 1MDB scandal.
The Malaysian government has also filed criminal charges against Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs. It has accused the investment bank of defrauding investors by raising money for 1MDB. The bank has denied that it did anything wrong and has vowed to vigorously defend the charges.
Whatever the outcome of this case and the others that follow in relation to 1MDB, this is a saga that has shown the need for proper internal governance structures. Such structures are essential in order to ensure that there are adequate controls in place and real transparency regarding what is being done with funds by those entrusted to manage them.
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