Saturday 20 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 18): The High Court has now fixed March 3 to deliver its decision on whether to call former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to enter his defence or to acquit the ex-PM in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report tampering case.

Trial judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan initially fixed Jan 30 to deliver his decision.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib confirmed this with The Edge when contacted.

Separately, deputy registrar Catherine Nicholas also confirmed the matter.

No reasons were indicated for the postponement.

Mohamed Zaini was elevated to the Court of Appeal in a ceremony on Tuesday (Jan 17) along with five other High Court judges.

In this trial, Najib is charged with abuse of power as a public officer in his capacity as the then prime minister and finance minister in altering the 1MDB audit report which was to be tabled to the Public Accounts Committee in 2016. This was so that no action could be taken against him by Parliament.

Among the items removed included fugitive financier Low Taek Jho's presence at 1MDB board meetings, and portions of 1MDB's 2014 financial statements.

The charge is framed under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009. If convicted, Najib stands to face a maximum of 20 years' jail, and a minimum fine of RM10,000 or five times the amount of such gratification, whichever is higher.

Former 1MDB president and chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy is charged with abetting Najib.

Mohamed Zaini would also make his ruling on Arul Kanda's indemnity then.

The trial, which began in November 2019, wrapped up in September last year with 16 witnesses — including Arul Kanda — having testified.

Among the other witnesses were the late former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, former auditors general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad, as well as former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh.

The prosecution is led by senior public prosecutor and former apex court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, along with Mohd Mustafa P Kunyalam and S Deepa Nair, while Najib is represented by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Arul Kanda is represented by Datuk N Sivananthan and Jasmine Cheong.

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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