KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution in the case of the alleged tampering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) final audit report involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and former 1MDB chief executive officer (CEO) Arul Kanda Kandasamy (pix) has applied to vacate the trial dates for the case.
High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan had previously fixed Nov 18 to 29 this year and Jan 13 to 17 next year for the trial.
Former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who is the lead prosecutor said this was because a key witness who would be called in the case was currently testifying under cross-examination in Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds (1MDB case).
“One of our principal witnesses that we will have to call in as the first witness is now under cross-examination in the 1MDB case, and according to indications yesterday, it is unlikely to be completed by Nov 14,“ he said during case management before justice Mohamed Zaini today.
He said Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had yesterday indicated that it was unlikely the cross-examination on the witness (former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi) in the 1MDB case would be completed by Nov 14.
Sri Ram said it would be prejudice to the prosecution’s case if the witness was called in while he was still testifying in the 1MDB case.
“The witness is very important to this case and I also need time to prepare the opening statement (for the case),“ he said.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Shafee who did not object to the application to vacate the trial dates said that it would be an advantage for him as he would have more time to prepare for the case.
“I am quite neutral about this because I think there are advantages. As long as I am not fighting the cases simultaneously,“ he said.
The court fixed Nov 13 for the decision whether to allow the prosecution’s application to have the trial dates vacated.
Counsel Jasmine Cheong acted for Arul Kanda, 43.
On Jan 4 this year, the Sessions Court here granted the prosecution’s application for the cases involving Najib and Arul Kanda to be heard together.
On Dec 12, 2018, Najib, 66, was charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to avoid any action against him.
He was charged, in his capacity as a public officer, which was as the Prime Minister, with using the position to obtain gratification for himself, which was to evade disciplinary, civil or criminal action against him in connection with 1MDB, by ordering alterations to the 1MDB final audit report before it was finalised and tabled to the PAC, where he directly had interest in.
The Pekan MP was accused of committing the offence at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government’s Administrative Centre, the Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and Feb 26, 2016.
The charge is framed under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 which carries a maximum 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.
Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect the Pekan MP from being subjected to disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with 1MDB, at the same place and time and in accordance with Section 28 (1) (c) of the MACC Act 2009 read with Section 23 (1) & 24 (1) of the same act which provides for similar punishment, if found guilty. — Bernama