Najib, Arul Kanda 1MDB audit report tampering trial postponed due to CMCO

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court October 13, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court October 13, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Arul Kanda Kandasamy’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit report tampering trial has been postponed to a later date due to the implementation of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) in the Klang Valley tomorrow.

This session of the trial was originally slated to last until tomorrow but had to be vacated in order to comply with the instructions issued by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat for the Federal Court, Court of Appeal, the courts in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor and the subordinate courts in Putrajaya from October 14 to October 27, in line with the government’s announcement of a CMCO at these three locations.

Prior to the start of today’s hearing, Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan informed the court that the hearing will be vacated tomorrow as he had received strict instructions from the chief justice that all courts must comply with the stipulated guidelines of the CMCO.

Taking the stand today was the prosecution’s fifth witness, National Audit Department Director Datuk Nor Salwani Muhammad, who was played the recording she had made of the February 24, 2016 meeting that was chaired by then chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa at his office.

Salwani had testified in previous hearings that she had left her recorder running in another colleague’s pencil case as she and a few others were told to leave the meeting room.  

The February 24, 2016 meeting eventually resulted in four main changes to the 1MDB audit report before it was finalised and presented to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

During re-examination, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib had asked Salwani to confirm the authenticity of the recording, to which she answered in the affirmative.

After that, the contents of the recording were tendered as evidence by the prosecution and subsequently accepted by the court.

Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, informed the court that he wishes to reserve cross-examination for a later date, which Justice Zaini allowed.

In this trial, Najib is accused of misusing his positions as prime minister and finance minister to order changes to the 1MDB audit report to avoid civil or criminal action, while Arul Kanda is accused of helping Najib commit the alleged offence.

The trial is set for hearing again from December 7 to December 10.

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