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Najib’s 1MDB audit tampering trial postponed as last witness falls ill

Najib’s 1MDB audit tampering trial postponed as last witness falls ill

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) audit tampering trial was postponed to next month as the last prosecution witness scheduled to testify today was suffering from intestinal bleeding.

Senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram told the High Court today that the witness, the investigating officer from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Haniff Lami, was given a two-day medical leave as his condition was quite bad.

“I have attempted to make arrangements to have his evidence taken via Zoom meeting, but unfortunately we did not have sufficient time to alert the court to make the arrangements. Otherwise, we would have proceeded with his evidence electronically.

“I apologise for that because the communications came late to us, close to 7 pm yesterday…his medical certificate is in court, he is excused for two days,” Sri Ram said.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan then said the trial will resume on Aug 12 with Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to continue cross-examination of the 15th prosecution witness, 1MDB’s former chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy and with Haniff to be on standby to testify as the last prosecution witness.

During today’s proceedings, Arul Kanda, who was charged together with Najib in the 1MDB audit tampering trial was not present in court while Najib was in the dock.

Najib’s lawyer Rahmat Hazlan informed the court that Arul Kanda’s lawyer Jasmine Cheong apologised for both her and her client’s (Arul Kanda) absence in court today as there was a miscommunication with the prosecution, while Sri Ram similarly asked the court to excuse Arul Kanda from appearing today.

Sri Ram said the court still has to make a formal order to excuse Arul Kanda as he is still an accused person until he is issued a certificate of indemnity, to which the judge replied, “His present is excused”.

Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government Administrative Centre, Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.

Both of them were charged under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act 2009, which provides for 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, upon conviction. — Bernama