Najib seeks postponement of 1MDB audit report tampering trial to Jan 13 next year

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex November 13, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex November 13, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak has filed an application to postpone the 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) audit report tampering trial, in which he and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy are supposed to face beginning next Monday.

The application was filed today through Messrs Shafee & Co, naming the public prosecutor and Arul Kanda as respondents.

In the application, the former prime minister requested for the trial, fixed for Monday until November 29 at the High Court here before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan to be moved to January 13, 2020.

In his supporting affidavit, Najib, who is first defendant in the case, stated that he and his lawyers would only have until December 2 to prepare for his defence in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, in which he is facing seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds.

On November 11, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ordered Najib, 66, to enter his defence on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of power in relation to the funds after after finding that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against him.

According to Najib, if the (audit report tampering) trial was to continue as scheduled, he would suffer prejudice as he and his lawyers would require a reasonable and sufficient amount of time to prepare for his defence in the SRC case, in which the charges he was facing were serious.

The Pekan MP also said his defence team, at the same time, were also involved in the preparation of another 1MDB case that began on Aug 28 and was still ongoing. His defence in the SRC trial is expected to begin on December 3.

“This gives me and my defence team a limited time of about two weeks to prepare for my defence, including reviewing the witnesses.

“With the commencement of the 1MDB audit report tampering trial this month, it will prevent me and my lawyers from preparing my defence case in a comprehensive and effective manner,” he said.

He said the application to adjourn the was reasonable so as to allow him to have a fair trial in line with his constitutional rights, in the best interest of the administration of justice and to allow the court overseeing the SRC trial to take into account all material evidence to reach a fair decision.

Yesterday, Judge Mohamed Zaini, in making the decision to begin the trial on Monday as scheduled, said that it would be hard-pressed to find alternatives dates if the earlier trial dates fixed before him be vacated as applied by the prosecution.

On November 7, former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who is the lead prosecutor, made the application to vacate the trial dates, as the key witness who would be called in the case was currently testifying under cross-examination in Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds (1MDB case).

On December 12, 2018, Najib was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action against him.

He 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 PAC, where he directly had interest in.

The Pekan MP was accused of committing 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 is framed under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 which carries a maximum jail term of up to 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 the Pekan MP 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. — Bernama

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