New judicial commissioner to hear 1MDB-linked suit against Najib

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Following the recusal of his predecessor, Kuala Lumpur High Court judicial commissioner Atan Mustaffa Yusoff Ahmad has been appointed to take over presiding for a 1MDB-linked lawsuit against former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Judicial commissioner Adlin Abdul Majid had previously decided to recuse herself from the legal action.

Previously, it was reported that besides Adlin, two other judicial commissioners had also recused themselves from presiding over similar legal actions involving Najib. They were Liza Chan Sow Keng and Quay Chew Soon.

The suit Atan Mustaffa will be presiding over is one among 22 launched by 1MDB as well as its former subsidiary, SRC International Sdn Bhd, against various personalities and entities who purportedly defrauded them.

The two plaintiffs have also taken legal action against entities that may not have perpetrated the fraud but were involved in the process knowingly or unknowingly.

When contacted today, a lawyer for 1MDB confirmed that Atan Mustaffa will now hear 1MDB’s suit against Najib and 14 other defendants linked to the troubled sovereign wealth fund.

The lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous, was speaking after today’s case management of the suit before the High Court.

Besides 1MDB, the other four plaintiffs of the present suit are entities related to the sovereign wealth fund, namely 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited, 1MDB Energy Limited, 1MDB Energy (Langat) Limited and Global Diversified Investment Company Limited (previously known as 1MDB Global Investments Limited).

The legal action will come up for further case management before the High Court on July 2.

Previously, The Edge Markets reported that the 22 suits were filed last month by three law firms namely Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership, Skrine & Co and Lim Chee Wee Partnership.

The suits seek around US$23 billion (RM94.4 billion) from the defendants.

Among those named as defendants include Najib, former 1MDB chairperson Che Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, and former 1MDB chief executive officers Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman and Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

Several family members of fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho or Jho Low were also named including his father and sister May Lin. His alleged associates Eric Tan Kim Loong and Tarek Obaid, who is PetroSaudi International Ltd founder, were also named.

Some of the entities named were Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Ltd as well as Swiss-based private bankers Coutts & Co Ltd and JP Morgan (Switzerland) Ltd.

The business news portal report, quoting a source familiar with the suits, said the criminal cases in the 1MDB scandal were proceeding too slowly and the civil suits would demonstrate Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s seriousness on the issue.

On July 27 last year, Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison and an RM210 million fine for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving RM42 million from SRC.

He is appealing the case and the matter is now before the Court of Appeal. His 1MDB-related charges are still at the High Court.

Previously, Bernama reported that the Finance Ministry confirmed that 1MDB and SRC had filed a total of 22 civil suits to recover assets worth over RM96.6 billion, including about RM300 million against various local parties.

In a statement, the ministry said the writs filed on May 7 comprised six by 1MDB and 16 by SRC.

The writs filed by 1MDB are against nine entities including two foreign financial institutions and 25 individuals while those filed by SRC are against eight entities and 15 individuals for various wrongdoings.

The wrongdoings include breach of contractual, statutory, common law and fiduciary duties; breach of trust; fraud; conspiracy to defraud; fraudulent misrepresentation; fraudulent breach of duties and trust; abuse of power; breach of fiduciary duties in public office and dishonest assistance in misappropriation of funds.

“1MDB and SRC contend that these entities and/or individuals have been unjustly enriched by wrongfully receiving monies from 1MDB or SRC,” the ministry said.

According to Bernama, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the government would not rest until all those involved are made fully accountable for the wrongdoings to the country through their involvement in 1MDB and/or SRC.

“Following significant and successful settlements with Goldman Sachs, AmBank Group and Deloitte PLT, the government’s recovery efforts are now focused on pursuing other wrongdoers who have caused losses to 1MDB and/or SRC during the execution of their duties as parties directly or indirectly involved in 1MDB and/or SRC’s various operations and transactions,” he added.

The government had earlier received RM10.5 billion from Goldman Sachs in August 2020 with a further asset recovery guarantee of RM5.88 billion.

The government had also recently received RM336 million from Deloitte PLT and is later to receive RM2.83 billion from the AmBank Group. – Malaysiakini

Related report: Jun 4, Another judge recuses self from hearing 1MDB-linked suit against Najib