Najib Abdul Razak’s lead lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is set to undergo mandatory five-day quarantine, following his arrival from the United Kingdom tomorrow.
As a result, the Kuala Lumpur High Court vacated Najib’s 1MDB audit report trial scheduled for today to Thursday.
Previously, it was reported that Shafee and several other defence counsels flew to the UK to meet a prospective Queen’s Counsel (QC) to act for Najib in his appeal to quash his conviction and sentencing in his RM42 million SRC International corruption case.
The vacating of the 1MDB audit report trial proceedings was confirmed by members of the prosecution and the legal teams for Najib and co-accused Arul Kanda Kandasamy, the former CEO of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
Najib’s counsel Rahmat Hazlan said Shafee is expected to arrive in Malaysia tomorrow and would still need to serve the mandatory five-day quarantine date, starting tomorrow.
“Najib’s lawyer (Muhammad) Shafee is still in the United Kingdom for the QC purpose and is to return tomorrow, and would then need to serve the five-day mandatory quarantine period,” Rahmat said when contacted.
The lawyer added that the trial dates were also vacated this week as Arul Kanda’s lawyer N Sivananthan has other court matters to attend to.
When reached out, Sivananthan and deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam confirmed the vacating of proceedings this week.
They added that the trial before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan is set to resume on March 28.
Najib has been charged with using his position to order amendments to 1MDB’s final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to prevent any action against him.
Co-accused Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments.
The charges are framed under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act 2009, which specify a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
The prosecution is contending that a decision to make the amendments was made during a meeting on Feb 24, 2016, at the office of the then chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa.
It was alleged this was done to remove or alter certain portions of the 1MDB audit report, including dropping the issue of wanted fugitive Low Taek Jho’s, also known as Jho Low, attendance at the fund’s board meetings.
Another issue that was allegedly dropped from the 1MDB audit report was the sovereign wealth fund’s two conflicting 2014 financial statements.
Besides Ali and Arul Kanda, others present at the meeting were former auditor-general Ambrin Buang, former National Audit Department officer Saadatul Nafisah Ahmad Bashir, Najib’s former chief private secretary Shukry Salleh, and then Attorney-General’s Chambers representative Dzulkifli Ahmad. – Malaysiakini