The highly-anticipated 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak starts today (Aug 28).
Today’s case is also dubbed the 1MDB-Tanore trial by prosecutors as Tanore Finance Corp is the source of the transfer of funds into Najib’s AmIslamic Bank account ending with ‘694’.
The prosecution would begin its case with former Federal Court Judge Gopal Sri Ram, who was appointed as senior deputy public prosecutor in the case, to read an opening statement followed by calling its first witness.
Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said the witnesses to be called today are officers from Malaysian Members of Parliament Affairs Division and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Ahmad said he would be conducting three witnesses while another DPP would handle the rest.
Reports have indicated that at least 60 prosecution witnesses will be called, including those who previously testified in the SRC International trial.
The trial will be heard before High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Najib is facing four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
Four Corruption Charges
On the four corruption charges, the 66-year-old Pekan MP is alleged to have committed the offences at the Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmIslamic Bank Berhad, at 55 Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur, between Feb 24, 2011, and Dec 19, 2014.
Najib was charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act under Section 24 (1) of the same law.
He faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.
21 Money Laundering Charges
For the 21 money laundering charges, Najib is alleged to have committed the offences at the same bank between March 22, 2013, and Aug 30, 2013.
All the charges were made according to Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 (AMLATFA), which provides for a maximum fine of RM5 million and a jail term of five years, or both, upon conviction.
Najib is not only the first former prime minister to be criminally charged, but he is also the first politician to face multiple criminal trials.
However, the trials will only proceed one at a time as Najib’s right as an accused requires that he be present for all criminal trial hearings, as well as interlocutory matters, to ensure that the proceedings are fair.
The burden of proof will be on the prosecution, who must prove that Najib is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Najib is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If Najib is convicted by the High Court, he may appeal at the Court of Appeal.
If convicted, and because Najib’s offences are bailable, the high court may also allow an application to stay the execution of his jail sentence until his appeals are exhausted at the appellate courts.
Najib was granted bail of RM3.5 million in two sureties last year for the 1MDB case. He is barred from leaving the country as his passport was impounded but is free to move internally.
The former premier’s legal team is led by prominent lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah while Gopal Sri Ram leads the prosecution.
Sri Ram, 77, also leads the prosecution in the coming IPIC trial involving Najib and former Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, as well as the corruption and money laundering case against Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor and her son, Riza Aziz.
The legality of Sri Ram’s appointment is currently being challenged by Najib and Shafee.