1MDB trial: Defence seeks to challenge legality of charges, lawyer tells court

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — The defence in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's trial over the misappropriation of 1MDB’s RM2.27 billion told the High Court today they will seek to contest the charges leveled against the former prime minister.

Lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah described the charges against his client as "all wrong" and "duplicitous' after the issue was earlier raised during cross-examination of the 49th prosecution witness, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Senior Superintendent Nur Aida Arifin.

"I don't want us to be accused of not raising this. The subject matter on all the charges will be a huge part of our submissions," Muhammad Shafee told trial judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Earlier, defence lawyer Wan Azwan Aiman Wan Fakhruddin explained that the defence was attempting to establish whether the MACC investigating officer had indeed investigated the four elements in the abuse of power charges.

The first abuse of power charge centered around Najib's purported actions from April 2009 to May 2011 which resulted in gratification of over RM60.6 million.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib objected to the defence's line of questioning, arguing that this particular part of the charge was in line with Section 23(2) of the MACC Act.

Section 23(2) provides that an officer of a public body shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, to have used his position for any gratification when he makes a decision, or takes any action, in relation to a matter in which he has a direct or indirect interest.

Ahmad Akram also argued the matter concerned questions of law and ought to be taken up during submissions at the close of the prosecution stage.

Trial judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah then told parties to take the matter up at submissions as it was up to the court to determine whether the prosecution had proven elements of the charge, not the investigating officer.

"The determination whether or not this has been proven, it has been said time and again is my call. I'm supposed to make the decision whether these elements have been proven or not," he said.

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 a 12-year jail sentence for the misappropriation of SRC International’s RM42 million funds. This was recently reduced to six years of jail and a RM50 million fine, from the initial RM210 million, by the Pardons Board.

The hearing resumes tomorrow.