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A ‘challenge’ to follow due to its length, says 1MDB trial judge after prosecution rests case

Publish date: Thu, 30 May 2024, 09:10 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — The trial judge presiding over Datuk Ser Najib Razak’s trial over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds said today it was a challenge to follow the case due to its extensive nature.

Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, now a Court of Appeal judge, had been a High Court judge when the case began on August 28, 2019.

“It was a challenge to follow (the case) due to the time taken,” Sequerah remarked briefly after the prosecutors told the High Court that the prosecution is formally closing its case after 235 days of hearing.

Earlier, the defence led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah completed its cross-examination of the 39th witness, former group managing director of AmBank Cheah Tek Kuang.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib then told the court there were no more witnesses to be called after calling 50 witnesses to present its case.

Sequerah also instructed the parties to file their written submissions by July 26, and to put in their replies by August 8.

Oral submissions will be held over four days from August 19 to August 22.

After that, Sequerah will have to rule whether the prosecution has proven a prima facie case, and if so, will call for Najib to enter his defence or grant an acquittal.

Najib was initially charged in the Sessions Court on September 20, 2018.

In his opening statement, then lead prosecutor, the late Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, told the court Najib used his position as the prime minister, the finance minister, and the chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers “to exert influence over the board of 1MDB to carry out certain abnormal transactions with undue haste”.

Sri Ram said the prosecution will, through its evidence, prove that Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, was the mirror image of Najib in all dealings related to 1MDB.

While the prosecution has been producing bankers and multiple bank documents as part of its efforts to prove its case against Najib to show that billions of ringgit had flowed into his accounts, Najib’s lawyers have been trying to put forth the narrative — including through the letters from the purported Saudi prince — that the money were actually donated gifts from Saudi royalty.

In this trial, Najib faces four counts of abuse of power for using his position as the then prime minister, finance minister, and chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers to receive gratifications worth US$620 million (RM2.27 billion). He also faces 21 money-laundering charges.

Imprisoned since August 23, 2022, Najib is serving his 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine for his conviction over the misappropriation of SRC International’s RM42 million funds, which has recently been reduced to six years of jail and RM50 million fine by the Pardons Board.

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