Najib’s 1MDB trial begins

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

Former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s (picture) 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial is now opened involving 25 charges over billions allegedly siphoned into his bank accounts, money transfers to associates and power misuse in the country’s largest money-laundering trial in history.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said in his opening statement that an elaborate charade was employed in the whole scheme of the money embezzlement, including the fugitive Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low. 

“But it was the accused who played the pivotal role. His objective was to enrich himself,” Sri Ram said at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

Sri Ram, whose his appointment as the deputy public prosecutor is being challenged by the defence, said the prosecution will “establish facts which will give rise to an irresistible inference that Jho Low and the accused acted as one at all material times.”

The former Federal Court judge has described Najib as the plenipotentiary of 1MDB and Jho Low was the former’s alter ego.

The prosecution will lay out the case according to four phases of the developments around 1MDB’s fundraising exercises, joint venture and acquisitions between 2009 and 2014.

 The four stages were PetroSaudi International Ltd or PSI; followed by various dubious acquisition by 1MDB; a purported joint venture between 1MDB and Aabar Investment PJS Ltd; and finally on Aabar options by 1MDB linked to International Petroleum Investment Co or IPIC.

Counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah lead the defence for Najib.

The ousted former prime minister (PM) was charged with 21 counts of money laundering involving RM4.3 billion and four counts of corruption involving RM2.3 billion, in relations to 1MDB funds which were deposited into his personal accounts.

The Pekan MP was the chairman of the company’s board of advisers while being the then PM and Finance Minister at the material time.

The prosecution is expected to call in about 60 witnesses throughout the trial, which will likely run until next year.