1MDB: Maintain or withdraw the three charges, says Najib’s lawyer

KUALA LUMPUR – Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has asked the prosecution team in Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s (picture) 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial to either maintain or withdraw the three charges involving power abuse and money laundering, instead of amending.

The veteran counsel submitted this in objecting to the prosecution’s application to amend three out of the 25 charges faced by his client.

Yesterday, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Kamal Baharin Omar told the High Court that they wish to amend one of Najib’s four power abuse charges and two of his 21 money laundering charges, following the recent testimonies of two witnesses namely Bank Negara Malaysia’s analyst Adam Ariff Mohd Roslan and Assistant Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Criminal Investigation Division ACP Foo Wei Min.

For the power abuse charge, the prosecution wanted to amend the amount from RM49.9 million to RM44.6 million, while for the money laundering charges, the prosecution wanted to amend the 10th charge which Najib was accused of committing by transferring money from unlawful activities, by reducing the amount involved from RM652.6 million to RM515.7 million.

Apart from that, the prosecution also wanted to amend the 21st charge involving the transfer of funds, by reducing the amount of RM12.4 million to RM11.4 million.

Today, Muhammad Shafee contended that the said application was made at the last stage of the trial, thus, it is unfair to the accused, and the prosecution should not change their goal post.

“They can either maintain or withdraw the said three charges. Meanwhile, we urge this court not to allow the amendments. The charges are the basis of the trial. My client was charged in 2018 and the prosecution wanted to amend the three charges after five years.

“Justice must not only come from the court. Justice must also come from the prosecutors who framed the charges in the interest of justice and thus must proffer the correct charges after a thorough investigation. The prosecution must be conducted with fairness and not inflict unfairness on the accused,” he said.

At this juncture, DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib stood up and said that the amendment actually made the amount lower, thus, it would be beneficial to Najib and not prejudice.

Najib, 70, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3 billion belonging to 1MDB and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The hearing before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow. – BERNAMA