Najib’s 1MDB trial likely to be lengthy

The 1MDB trial is still at the testimonial of the 10th prosecution witness out of 60 witnesses in total


FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s (picture) 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial is expected to stretch beyond the dates that are set for his case relating to the criminal breach of trust (CBT) of RM6.6 billion government funds.

The CBT case also involves former Treasury secretary general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

Defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the 1MDB trial would take a long time as the case is still at the testimonial of the 10th prosecution witness, another former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman. The prosecution is expected to call 60 witnesses.

“I would like to ask Yang Arif, if the trial of the 1MDB case goes beyond the trial date (of the CBT case), will Yang Arif take into account the date to continue the hearing of the 1MDB case with the (CBT) case?

“The reason being that the hearing of the 1MDB case is going to take a long time…I request May 21 for case management as agreed by both parties to inform the latest status of two criminal cases (1MDB and audit report) involving my client,” Muhammad Shafee said during case management yesterday.

Datuk K Kumaraendran, the lawyer who represents Mohd Irwan Serigar, did not object to the submission but requested for the presence of his client to be exempted as he is taking a law course at a private college and has to sit for an examination on that day.

Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin set May 21 for case management and allowed Kumaraendran’s request.

He also maintained the dates that had been fixed to hear the CBT case, which is 32 days in September and October 2021, to make way for the completion of Najib’s two other criminal cases, one on 1MDB and the other is on the 1MDB audit report tampering.

On Oct 24, 2018, Najib and Mohd Irwan Serigar pleaded not guilty to six CBT charges, involving RM6.6 billion in government funds, that was paid to International Petroleum International Corp.

They were charged with committing the offences at the Ministry of Finance Complex, Putrajaya, between Dec 21, 2016, and Dec 18, 2017.

Meanwhile, in the 1MDB trial proceeding yesterday, Mohd Hazem testified that he would not have taken the job at the company if he knew money was being embezzled.

Muhammad Shafee: You would never have thought of it, not in your lifetime, that this money would one day be accused of being sent back for Najib’s benefit.

Mohd Hazem: No (I did not).

Muhammad Shafee: Why didn’t you expect this? Because this scheme is outlandish?

Mohd Hazem: Yes, I didn’t expect this.

Muhammad Shafee: And if this (scheme) was communicated to you, you may not accept the appointment (in the company)?

Mohd Hazem: Yes.

Muhammad Shafee: Why wouldn’t you accept the appointment if you knew?

Mohd Hazem: As you said, it was outlandish the way the scheme was undertaken.

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.

Mohd Hazem was the second 1MDB CEO after Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, helming the company from March 2013 until January 2015.

He previously testified that Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo, were the only persons with access to the funds abroad, while the company’s CEO was denied access.

Mohd Hazem said he had no access nor was he in the know about the company’s funds overseas.

Read our earlier report

Ex-CEO: Najib ‘ran the show’ at 1MDB