July 28 (UPI) -- A Malaysian court on Tuesday sentenced former Prime Minister Najib Razak to 12 years in prison and fined $49.45 million in default for five in custody after he was found guilty of corruption and money laundering charges.
The conviction was in connection to the alleged theft of billions of dollars from a state-run investment fund.
Earlier in the day, Najib was found guilty of all seven charges, including one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust and three counts of money laundering, in connection to illegally obtaining some $9.8 million from SRC International, a former unit of the government-run 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund, or 1MDB.
The 1MDB was launched in July 2009 to entice investment into the Asian nation but became embroiled in scandal. The U.S. Justice Department has said some $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and laundered through various schemes.
Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali told the court he took the public interest into consideration before issuing the sentence.
"The sentence is not only to punish offenders but to deter other people from repeating the offense," Ghazali said. "I've also taken into consideration his contribution to the economic growth of the country."
Najib had faced decades in jail as well as fines and whippings, but his lawyers asked for sentencing to be delayed.
"It is not an understatement to say this is the biggest case in the world. I say that without batting an eye" Najib's lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, told the court. "We need some time to do proper mitigation."
The 67-year-old former prime minister pleaded not guilty to the charges in April of last year.
On Facebook Monday, Najib said he would appeal the decision if found guilty.
"Since the first day I have said that this is my chance to clear my name," he wrote in the post.
"No matter what the decision is tomorrow in the High Court, it doesn't end here. If found innocent, of course the prosecutor will appeal at the Court of Appeals. Rather, if the decision in the High Court is not in my favor, of course, I would take this case to the Court of Appeal for fair judgment by a three-judge panel," he said.
Najib still faces dozens of other charges in at least two more trials in connection to the 1MBD scandal, which led to him losing the country's helm in the 2018 election.
Late last week, Goldman Sachs agreed to a nearly $3.9 billion settlement with the Malaysian government, which had filed charges against the U.S. investment house, accusing it of misleading investors in selling $6.5 billion in bonds for the 1MDB fund
U.S. prosecutors have said money stolen from the fund was laundered through the purchase of high-end real estate in New York and Los Angeles, hotel properties, a $260 million yacht, a $35 million jet and works of art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Money as well as used to finance the 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio film The Wolf of Wall Street.