Najib in court today for SRC International trial

The former SRC International advisor emeritus returns to the witness stand in defence against 7 criminal charges related to the state-owned company

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by ARIF KARTONO

FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s return to the Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court in 2020 begins today, as SRC International Sdn Bhd trial recommences with cross-examination by prosecutors.

The former SRC International advisor emeritus returns to the witness stand in defence against seven criminal charges related to the alleged misappropriated RM42 million funds which belonged to the former unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The case was given priority for completion over another corruption trial involving Najib and former Treasury secretary general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah on the alleged misused RM6.6 billion government funds.

The KL High Court had vacated the dates for the Najib-Mohd Irwan joint trial — which is largely linked to 1MDB’s debt payments to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co — until the end of February this year for the SRC International case.

The court maintained the dates for the duo’s joint trial in March and April.

Najib’s second trial, the 1MDB trial where he was charged with 21 counts of money laundering and four counts of corruption involving RM2.3 billion, is also expected to continue this year with testimonies by key prosecution witnesses.

The court fixed Jan 7 for case management on the handover of documents by the prosecutors to the defence involving documents surrendered by Xavier Andre Justo to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and also on the dates of the 1MDB trial going-forward.

Meanwhile, the case management on 1MDB audit tampering trial, Najib’s third trial that involved former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, is scheduled for Jan 9.

Last year, Najib made history as the first former PM of the country to take the witness stand after he was not acquitted on all seven charges linked to the SRC International’s RM42 million funds.

His last testimony before the trial went for a break was that he could “sense” there was sufficient money in the account when he issued multimillion ringgit cheques without checking the outstanding balance.

Deputy public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram asked who Najib referred to when he issued cheques at the office and at home.

“I did not check it. I issued the cheque. I could sense there was enough money in the bank accounts,” Najib told the KL High Court.

Throughout seven days in the witness box, the former PM and finance minister had generally maintained that he was not involved in operational matters of the company.

The Pekan MP also claimed that his signature on documents related to SRC International might have been forged despite having verified by him during the investigations.

The defence, led by Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, has demanded Najib’s signatures on documents to be verified by an expert from Australia.

The defendant denied signing the document of a special resolution that added Article 117 into the SRC International’s articles of association, which provided the appointment of the PM as the advisor emeritus of SRC International.

The inserted provision stated that the board shall give due consideration to and implement any advice of the advisor emeritus in the best interest of the company.

Najib claimed that there was no original copy of the document presented to him and he wanted a handwriting expert to verify the signature.

Najib, however, testified that he signed the document during cross-examination by the lead prosecutor Attorney General Tommy Thomas previously.

In the 1MDB trial, the defence will continue to cross-examine prosecution key witness, former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

In the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, the hearing is expected to continue to revolve around the audio recording of a controversial meeting that led to alleged amendments to the 1MDB final audit report.

The recording of a high-level “coordination meeting”, which was secretly taped by National Audit Department audit director Nor Salwani Muhammad, revealed instructions for former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang to remove issues on two versions of 1MDB’s financial statements on the final audit report.

The coordination meeting also deliberated other issues found in 1MDB audit draft, including the delay of Islamic medium-term notes issuance and the involvement of Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, in a board meeting in approving a joint-venture investment between 1MDB and PetroSaudi International Ltd, despite the fugitive businessman not having any position or role in 1MDB.

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