by BERNAMA/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy (picture) has objected to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s application to postpone the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, which is scheduled to begin on Monday and where Arul is facing a charge of abetment.
Arul’s counsel Datuk N. Sivananthan told High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that his client has been under a dark cloud since he was charged last year.
“He wants to see this trial go on and he wants to be given an opportunity to vindicate himself.
“I think it’s quite unfair that everyone has been talking of everybody’s interest and he just kept there and just followed suit with everybody else. The court should look at the interest of all the accused persons, not just one accused.
“So on that basis I have to object and ask this court to reject this application and for trial to commence on Monday,” he said in his submissions.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, who also opposed the application, submitted that Justice Mohamed Zaini had earlier ruled that the trial will commence on Monday as scheduled.
If the court gives a different decision today, he added, it would lead to a negative perception of the judiciary.
Najib’s counsel Harvinderjit Singh submitted that if the 1MDB audit report tampering trial begins on Monday, they would have only a short time to prepare for their defence in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, in which the former prime minister is facing seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds.
On Nov 11, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ordered Najib, 66, to enter his defence on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of position in relation to the funds after finding that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against him.
Judge Mohamed Zaini said that he was surprised when Najib made the application as his lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had earlier taken a neutral stand.
“I will deliver my decision this Monday. However, please be prepared if I disallow this application. I try to be fair as much as I can,” he said.
The Pekan MP filed the motion on Wednesday, requesting for the trial, fixed for Monday until Nov 29 before Judge Mohamed Zaini, to be moved to Jan 13, 2020.
According to Najib, if the (audit report tampering) trial was to proceed as scheduled, he would suffer prejudice as he and his lawyers would require a reasonable and sufficient amount of time to prepare for his defence in the SRC case, in which the charges he was facing were serious.
He also said his defence team, at the same time, was also involved in the preparation of another 1MDB case that began on Aug 28 and was ongoing. His defence in the SRC trial is expected to begin on Dec 3.
On Dec 12, 2018, Najib was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action against him.
He was charged, in his capacity as a public officer, which was as the prime minister, with using the position to obtain gratification for himself, which was to evade disciplinary, civil or criminal action against him in connection with 1MDB, by ordering alterations to the 1MDB final audit report before it was finalised and tabled to the PAC, where he directly had interest in.
Najib was accused of committing the offence at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government’s Administrative Centre, the Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.
The charge was framed under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect the Pekan MP from being subjected to disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with 1MDB, at the same place and time and in accordance with Section 28 (1) (c) of the MACC Act 2009 read with Section 23 (1) & 24 (1) of the same act, which provides for similar punishment, if found guilty.