Najib’s audit report tampering trial expected to resume this week

The defence to continue cross-examining the 5th prosecution witness Nor Salwani

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by BERNAMA

FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s (picture) trials may finally resume this week following the relaxed restrictions under the latest development of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) which now allows interstate travel.

Najib’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report tampering trial was scheduled to restart today after it was delayed due to CMCO.

The trial, which also involves former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, was fixed to continue from today until Thursday.

The prosecution previously told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that 11 more witnesses will be called to testify, including two with lengthy testimonies.

The defence is expected to continue cross-examining the fifth prosecution witness, Datuk Nor Salwani Muhammad, the National Audit Department audit director, when the hearing resumes.

The proceeding was left last time with Nor Salwani confirming the authenticity of the secret audio recording obtained from a recorder that she put inside a pencil case owned by her then superior, Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad, after she was not allowed to join the “coordination meeting” on Feb 24, 2016.

The meeting discussed the proposed amendments of the 1MDB audit report that was chaired by former Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, with Najib’s former officer Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh and Arul Kanda among the attendees.

The tape is now a key exhibit in the trial.

Najib is charged with abusing his power as a public officer in his capacity as PM and finance minister in altering the 1MDB audit report.

Arul Kanda is accused of abetting Najib in tampering with the company’s audit report, which was then tabled to the Public Accounts Committee for investigation.

Separately, the High Court had fixed Dec 14 to 17 to continue hearing Najib’s 1MDB case, the one that involves the misappropriation of the RM2.3 billion linked to the state wealth funds.

Similar to the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, the RM2.3 billion 1MDB trial was delayed due to CMCO.

When it resumes, the defence is expected to continue cross-examining former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman.

Apart from the CMCO, the 1MDB trial was also postponed in an earlier round due to a mandatory two-week quarantine Najib had to comply with after returning from Sabah for the state election campaign.

Mohd Hazem previously testified that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, was the one who controlled 1MDB funds abroad, while the company’s CEO was denied access.

He, who was the CEO from March 2013 until January 2015, said Jho Low and 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo were the only persons with access to the funds.

The former CEO said he had no access nor was he in the know about the company’s funds overseas.

Najib is facing 25 charges — 21 counts of money laundering involving RM4.3 billion (received and transferred) and four counts of corruption involving RM2.3 billion linked to 1MDB, which were allegedly deposited into his accounts.