1MDB Audit Report: Court to hear Najib’s bid to recuse Sri Ram on Jan 27


KUALA LUMPUR —The High Court will here on Jan 27 an application by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (picture) to disqualify former Federal Court judge, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, from leading the prosecution team in his on-going trial over alleged tampering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report.

Lawyer Nur Syahirah Hanapiah, representing Najib, told reporters this after the case came up for mention today before deputy registrar, Catherine Nicholas.

Also present was deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P. Kunyalam.

“Senior counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is currently on medical leave, so the hearing, initially fixed for today, has to be taken off.

“So, the application (by Najib) to disqualify Sri Ram has been fixed for hearing on Jan 27 before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan at 9.30 am,” she added.

One June 12, last year, Najib, 68, filed an application to recuse Sri Ram, supported by two affidavits, one filed by Najib and the other by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

In his application, Najib is seeking a declaration that there was a conflict of interest between the appointment of Sri Ram as a seniorb deputy public prosecutor (DPP) under Section 376(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code and his practice as an Advocate Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.

He also seeks a declaration that Sri Ram had acted and/or continues to act in conflict of interest of his purported appointment as a senior DPP, having displayed bias and mala fide, inter alia, by having preconceived and predetermined notions of the applicant’s guilt even before he was officially charged in any court or any order or relief which the court may deem fit and proper in the circumstances.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Apandi in his affidavit said that on a late afternoon in January 2018, Sri Ram came to his house in Jalan Dutamas here, after he (Sri Ram) made a couple of calls wanting to speak to him personally and privately.

“He (Sri Ram) said, ‘Tun M (former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) sent me to see you,’ and he continued, ‘He (Tun M) wants you to arrest Najib at his office, you go tomorrow at 2 pm, we have arranged for the police in Putrajaya to do what is necessary on your instruction.  We have also arranged for a magistrate to issue the remand order when he is brought before him or her’,” the former AG said.

Mohamed Apandi alleged that Sri Ram told him that he would be a hero in the eyes of the people and would be the first AG to arrest a sitting prime minister and that they had laid the ground plans and all he (Sri Ram) needed now was for him to agree.

In the affidavit-in-reply filed on July 6, last year, Sri Ram dismissed Mohamed Apandi’s allegations that he (Sri Ram) had been sent by Dr Mahathir to see the latter (Mohamed Apandi) over the conversation to arrest Najib.

Sri Ram said he attended a meeting with Mohamed Apandi and his wife at their home in a purely professional capacity and during the meeting, he rendered certain advice which was the subject matter of legal professional privilege.

Najib is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda Kandasamy is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

Both of them were charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The trial was last heard on October 13 and will resume on Jan 18 before Justice Mohamed Zaini.