Najib’s 1MDB trial to resume a day after Parliament sitting

by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA

THE high-profile trial of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (picture), who is facing charges for corruption and money laundering involving RM2.3 billion in 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, which was scheduled on May 18, has been adjourned to the next day to allow the former prime minister to attend the one-day sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had sent an email to the High Court last Friday to request for the new date.

“The defence’s application has been granted and  the trial will resume on May 19 at 2 pm,” he said.

The trial which was widely reported had its last proceedings on March 13 before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

The court had previously set March 19-20, 23-27 and 30-31; April 1-30; and May 4-8, 11-22, inclusive of Fridays to continue the trial.

Other dates fixed were the entire month of June, July, August, September and October, including Fridays.

However,the proceedings had been postponed for several times due to the implementation of the Movement Control Order by the government.

When hearing resumes,  Najib’s defence counsel is expected to continue with cross-examination of the ninth prosecution witness, former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, who has been on the stand since Sept 23 last year.

Najib, 67, faces four charges of abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

Meanwhile, the court has also set June 15 to continue with the trial on tampering of the 1MDB audit report tampering involving Najib and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy. It will be held before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

According to Ahmad Akram, the prosecution had received an email from the High Court Deputy Registrar Catherine Nicholas yesterday notifying that the trial was fixed on June 15-18, 29-30, July 1-3 and 27-30.

Najib 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 Public Accounts Committee, where he directly had interest in.

Najib allegedly committed 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 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 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.