(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he saw an order for former premier Najib Razak to serve the remainder of his 1MDB-linked jail sentence under house arrest, backing the latter’s claims in an judicial review. 

Zahid — the president of the United Malays National Organisation that Najib once led — said in an affidavit that he saw a copy of a royal order from Malaysia’s previous king on Jan. 30, allowing the former leader to go under house arrest, according to a court filing. 

Najib filed a judicial review earlier in the month on the matter, saying the order had not been made public. The former premier was imprisoned in 2022 on abuse of power and money-laundering charges in relation to 1MDB, a troubled state fund. 


The court will decide whether to hear Najib’s request on June 5, his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. Its decision is set to draw more scrutiny to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s commitment to fight graft.

The royal leniency granted to Najib earlier this year had sparked a backlash against Anwar, who rose to power in November 2022 on an anti-corruption platform. His government, which counts UMNO as a key ally, has already withdrawn 47 criminal charges against Zahid. 

Reducing Sentence

At a Pardons Board meeting on Jan. 29, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah decided to halve Najib’s jail term to six years and reduced his 1MDB-related fines to 50 million ringgit ($10.4 million). It was one of the last acts by the royal ruler, who ended his five-year reign under Malaysia’s rotational monarchy on Jan. 30.

Pardons are granted at the sole discretion of the king, with advice from a board of government officials and appointees. 

Najib, in his latest application, requested that the court compel the government to verify the existence of the king’s supplementary order, and, upon confirmation, execute it so that he may be moved to his residence in Kuala Lumpur. 

Shafee told reporters outside the courtroom on Wednesday that they also received affidavits from other witnesses in their favor, but were unable to file them in time.

Najib, who lost power about six years ago, was accused of transferring 42 million ringgit from 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn. to his personal account between 2014 and 2015. 

He remains widely popular in Malaysia but still faces trials for dozens of other criminal charges related to the wealth fund, which became the center of a multibillion dollar scandal that spawned probes across the world.  

(Updates with details from court filing throughout.)

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