Najib’s third 1MDB-linked trial starts today, Arul Kanda also in dock

Ida Lim
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 18, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s third trial linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal started without delay today, after the High Court refused his request to postpone the case.

Former prime minister Najib is being jointly tried with former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy over charges of tampering in 2016 with the auditor-general’s final report on 1MDB.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan this morning rejected Najib’s application and opted to proceed with the trial as scheduled.

“I considered the application. The application is dismissed. I now order the trial to proceed,” he said after having considered Najib’s application last week.

On November 13, Najib sought to postpone the start of the trial to January 13, saying his lawyers needed time to prepare his defence in a separate trial over RM42 million funds from former 1MDB unit SRC International Sdn Bhd

However, both the prosecution and Arul Kanda last week objected to this.

Former 1MDB CEO, Arul Kanda Kandasamy, is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex November 18, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

The High Court previously set the Najib-Arul Kanda trial dates as November 18 to November 29, before continuing from January 13 to 17, 2020.

In this trial, Najib was charged with abusing his position as prime minister to order amendments in February 2016 to the auditor-general’s final audit report on 1MDB before its presentation to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action against him.

Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib in the report’s tampering.

Both their offences are punishable under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 with a maximum 20-year jail term, and a fine of at least five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000 or whichever is higher.

Najib, who wore a light brown suit today, was seen sitting together and chatting with Arul Kanda who was dressed in a dark blue suit before court proceedings started.

Related Articles 1MDB has issued capital of RM1b, SSM assistant registrar tells High Court Najib-Arul Kanda trial: What was removed from Auditor-General’s 1MDB audit report? Lawyer: Arul Kanda must be freed of charge if he testifies against Najib