1MDB audit tampering: court rejects Najib’ s request to postpone, trial commences

by BERNAMA/ graphic by DYG NORAZHAR

The joint trial of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) former chief executive officer (CEO) Arul Kanda Kandasamy over alleged tampering of the 1MDB final audit report commenced today after the High Court here rejected the former premier’s application to postpone the trial.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan then ordered the trial to proceed as scheduled.

Najib in his application filed on Nov 13, said that if the 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 International Sdn Bhd case.

The Pekan MP is currently preparing to enter his defence in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case, in which he was charged with seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC funds at another High Court. His defence will resume on Dec 3.

He also stated in the application that his defence team, at the same time, was also involved in the preparation of the other ongoing 1MDB case which began on Aug 28.

Najib’s application, however, had been objected by Arul Kanda who urged the court to look at the interest of all the accused persons, not just one accused, and asked the court to proceed with the trial as he wanted to be given an opportunity to vindicate himself.

Former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram is leading the prosecution team together with deputy public prosecutors Datuk Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman, Mohammad Al-Saifi Hashim, Ahmad Akram Gharib, Rozaliana Zakaria, Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam, Nadia Zulkefli, Hazmida Harris Lee, Tan Song Yan, Fatimah Hannah Abd Wahab, Munira Syahirah Mohamad Kamal, Nur Syakirin Yaccob and Wafa Zainal Abidin.

Najib is represented by counsels Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, Syahirah Hanapiah, while Arul Kanda, 43, is represented by counsels Datuk N. Sivananthan, Jasmine Cheong and Dhanyaa Shreeya Sukumar.

On Jan 4 this year, the Sessions Court granted the prosecution’s application for the cases involving Najib and Arul Kanda to be heard together.

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 is framed under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 which carries a maximum jail term of up to 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 Najib 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.