The Sessions Court here today rejected former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s request to pay in instalments the RM500,000 bail imposed on him in the case over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) final audit report.
Najib had pleaded not guilty to a charge of using his position as prime minister to order alterations to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action against him.
His lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, had requested the court to allow his client to pay RM200,000 of the bail amount today and another RM200,000 tomorrow, with the remaining RM100,000 to be paid on Friday.
However, Judge Azura Alwi rejected the request, saying that bail payment could not be paid by instalments and must be made forthwith.
Muhammad Shafee insisted, to which Azura replied “No, by today”.
Azura allowed Najib to be released on bail of RM500,000 with one surety and set Jan 4 for mention.
Earlier, former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who has been appointed senior deputy public prosecutor and is leading the prosecution team in the case, offered bail at RM1 million with one surety for Najib.
Muhammad Shafee objected to it and applied for the court to extend the bail amount that had been imposed on his client on separate cases, totalling RM5.5 million, to today’s case.
“I would like to ask for my client to be released with no bail amount,” he said, adding that if the court was of the view that his client had to be released on bail, the amount should be RM500,000.
This, he said, being the amount suggested by the prosecution in another court involving former 1MDB president and CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy who was charged with abetting Najib on the same transaction.
Muhammad Shafee said Najib and Arul Kanda were charged under different sections, but the punishment was the same, and that the amount of RM1 million was grossly unfair and discriminatory against his client.
He said Najib had to secure the money from his relatives and friends to pay the bail amount of RM5.5 million.
The lawyer argued that the purpose of the bail was to secure the attendance of the accused in court, where his client had never failed to turn up in court when his case was called up and in fact arrived early.
He said the bail amount should not be oppressive and stressed that Najib was not a flight risk and would not abscond.
Sri Ram objected to the RM500,000 amount, saying that Najib was charged for principle offence, while Arul Kanda was charged with abetting him (Najib).
“Therefore, the principle offender is always being treated differently from the abetter,” he said, adding that, he could remember that there was no provision in law to empower the court to grant for no bail imposed on the accused or extended bail set by other courts in separate case to the present case.
He also said the accused had been charged repeatedly, but that should not be a privilege for him to extend the bail from other cases to this case.
“I respectfully request the court not to exceed the defence request to release the accused with no bail,” he said.
Muhammad Shafee stood up and requested the court the amount of RM5.5 million bail in separate cases to be extended to current case.
“RM5.5 million is in my client’s shoulder,” he said adding Najib had already paid the amount.
Until today, Najib, 65, has been charged for the fifth time and was slapped with 39 charges altogether, including today’s charge.
On July 4, Najib was charged in the Sessions Court here with three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and one count of abuse of power in connection with SRC International Sdn Bhd funds totalling RM42 million, while on August 8, he pleaded not guilty to three counts of money laundering of the same money.
On Sept 20, Najib was brought again to the Sessions Court and was charged with four counts of corruption charges totalling RM2.282 billion of 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering and on Oct 25, he and former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah claimed trial in the Sessions Court to six CBT charges involving RM6,636,065,000 of funds belonging to the Malaysian government.
– BERNAMA / BERNAMA PHOTO