Malaysia's Najib engaged in 'well-planned' plot to plunder 1MDB

Malaysia's Najib engaged in 'well-planned' plot to plunder 1MDB

Malaysian ex-leader Najib Razak engaged in a "well-planned" plot to plunder state fund 1MDB, prosecutors argued Tuesday as a judge prepares to decide whether his first trial over the scandal should proceed.

But the defence team of the 66-year-old, who was voted out of office last year in large part due to allegations he and his cronies pilfered massive sums from the fund to buy everything from real estate to artwork, said that the evidence presented in court was not enough to prove his guilt.

After being ejected from office, Najib was hit with dozens of charges and his first 1MDB-linked trial began in April, centring on claims 42 million ringgit ($10 million) was stolen from a former unit of the fund.

The prosecution wrapped up its case in August. On Tuesday prosecutors and defence lawyers presented arguments before the judge rules on November 11 whether the case is strong enough to move forward.

If it proceeds, Najib will likely begin his defence in December.

Prosecutor V. Sithambaram told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that Najib engaged in a "planned, premeditated" plot to steal the money over several years.

It was a "well-designed, well-planned execution of (criminal conduct) committed by the person in the highest office in the country," he said.

In a written submission, Najib's defence team argued that "the bulk of the evidence" did not lead to "any finding of culpability" on Najib's part, and he should be cleared.

Najib is facing seven charges of corruption and money-laundering in the trial. He denies any wrongdoing.

Each charge of corruption carries a maximum jail term of 20 years, and each money-laundering count is punishable by a term of up to 15 years.

The prosecution called 57 witnesses and the court heard evidence about the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by Najib and his widely reviled wife, Rosmah Mansor, after allegedly looting state coffers.

Najib's biggest 1MDB trial opened in August, centring on allegations he illicitly obtained the equivalent of $545 million from 1MDB.

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Pepper spray, tear gas and a water cannon were used, while a number of officers were reportedly hurt and a lawyer suffered serious injuries after being assaulted by a group of black-clad protesters. Explainer: What does Beijing’s new national security law for Hong Kong cover?Repeating the government’s stance that plugging national security “loopholes” was an urgent necessity, Tam said Beijing would consult Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s administration and the Basic Law committee while drafting the bill. Lam has gone on record offering her “full support” to the planned legislation.“For the rest of the public, there’s the NPC website, where you can go and check the progress of different bills and file your own opinions. There is also a list on the website revealing how many comments they’ve received,” Tam said.“We agree there’s a continuous need for more [explanation] of the law, so that young people will not be deceived. 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We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.More from South China Morning Post: * Tear gas fired, arrests made as thousands protest against Beijing’s planned national security law for Hong Kong * What does Beijing’s new national security law for Hong Kong cover, and who should worry?This article Hong Kong representative on China’s top legislative body touts website as way for residents to submit views on national security law first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

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