Najib graft trial to proceed on Wednesday despite last-minute delay bid

Najib graft trial to proceed on Wednesday despite last-minute delay bid

KUALA LUMPUR: The corruption trial of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak charges will proceed on Wednesday (Apr 3), despite his legal team filing an application for a judicial review against the Federal Court’s decision to lift the stay of proceedings order.

When contacted on Tuesday, Najib's lawyer Harvinderjit Singh told The Star that the judicial review application will be heard on Thursday.

The application was filed on Monday, just two days before Najib was due to answer seven charges on criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering. The charges involve the alleged transfer of RM42 million (US$10.3 million) into his bank account from SRC International, a former unit of the scandal-hit state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Singh said another corruption case involving Najib and RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds was also mentioned in the High Court on Monday.

Originally set to begin on Feb 12, Najib's trial was postponed because of appeals over procedural matters raised in pre-trial hearings.

READ: Malaysia's ex-PM Najib gears up for graft trial with charm offensive

On Mar 27, a seven-man panel from the Federal Court lifted the stay of proceedings order earlier granted by the Court of Appeal.

Earlier, senior prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram informed the court that Chief Judge of Malaya Zaharah Ibrahim has agreed to give priority to the SRC International case rather than to the 1MDB case.

Men walk past a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the fund's flagship Tun Razak
FILE PHOTO: Men walk past a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the fund's flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

It was decided by the courts that the 1MDB trial would begin in May, depending on the schedule of the SRC International case.

On Sep 20, 2018, Najib was charged with four counts under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act and 21 counts for money laundering involving 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion.

He allegedly committed the offences at AmIslamic Bank Berhad between 2011 and 2014.

READ: Malaysian finance minister hopes for ‘boring democracy’ with no financial scandals

The SRC International trial is the first of several criminal proceedings Najib is expected to face over the scandal, and the sum involved is a fraction of the US$1 billion investigators allege made its way to his bank accounts.

He faces years in prison if convicted on a total of 42 criminal charges, most of them linked to 1MDB.

At least six countries, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore, have launched money laundering and graft investigations into 1MDB, set up by Najib in 2009.

Source: Bernama/CNA/aw

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