KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz could be called as a prosecution witness to testify against his stepfather, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in the latter’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial, said ad hoc prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
At the start of today’s court proceedings, Sri Ram informed High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that the prosecution would need to update their witnesses list due to the possibility that Riza may testify as a prosecution witness.
“The other thing is just a matter of housekeeping, about witnesses, have been informed that Riza Aziz may be added to the witness list because he has indicated his readiness to give evidence for the prosecution in this case, so we may have to alter [the list of witnesses],’’ said Sri Ram.
On May 14, the Sessions Court had granted Riza discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) over his five counts of money-laundering some US$248 million (RM1.07 billion) alleged to have been siphoned from 1MDB.
It was reported that the prosecution had reached a settlement with Riza under the terms of which the federal government will receive a substantial sum running into several million ringgit.
On the 14 May, Sri Ram also stated that the appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that Riza receives a full acquittal of the charges if he satisfactorily fulfills the agreement, but noted that the prosecution could still pursue the charges against Riza if he fails to fulfill the agreement.
On July 5, 2019, Riza — who is also co-founder of the Hollywood production house Red Granite Pictures and son of Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor — was charged with five counts of money-laundering under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 (AMLATFA).
Riza pleaded not guilty and claimed trial to the five charges, which are each punishable with a maximum RM5 million fine or maximum five-year jail term or both.
He was accused of receiving a total of US$248,173,104 (equivalent to about RM1.026 billion by the exchange rate on the day he was charged or over RM1.075 billion by today’s exchange rate) between April 2011 and November 2012.
Today marks the 35th day of Najib 1MDB corruption trial, where the firm’s former chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi will continue to be cross-examined by Najib’s defence team led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.