KUALA LUMPUR — Aug. 28, 2019: Prosecutors today said that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak abused his power to cover up the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from the state-fund 1MDB and used it for self gratification.
On the opening day of the biggest trial into the 1MDB financial scandal, prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said Najib used his position to evade justice, especially after news of the scandal broke in July 2015.
“He interfered with the course of investigation of the case which has come to be known as the 1MDB scandal. He took active steps to effect a cover up of his criminal acts,” Gopal said in his opening statement at the high court.
Malaysian and U.S. authorities allege that about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad which Najib co-founded in 2009.
Najib was voted out of power last year amid widespread public anger over the scandal, and has since been charged with 42 criminal offences linked to losses at 1MDB and other state entities. He has denied any wrongdoing and says the charges are politically motivated.
In his second trial beginning today, Najib faces 21 charges of money laundering and four charges of abuse of power for allegedly receiving illegal transfers of at least RM2.3 billion between 2011 and 2014.
The prosecution argued that Najib had not acted alone, colluding on numerous occasions with fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, to set up and carry out abnormal financial transactions with undue haste.
Low, who faces criminal charges in Malaysia and the US over his alleged central role in the 1MDB case, has consistently denied wrongdoing and his whereabouts are unknown.
“If you place the accused before a mirror, you will see Jho Low. And if you place Jho Low before a mirror, you will see the accused,” Sri Ram said.
After the shock election loss, Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were barred from leaving Malaysia and their luxurious lifestyle came under scrutiny, with the discovery of nearly $300 million worth of goods and cash at properties linked to him.
Today’s proceedings began a day after prosecutors wrapped up its case against Najib in his first trial, where he is accused of illegally receiving $10 million from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.
Lawyers for both sides are expected to submit their closing arguments for that case in October, followed by a ruling by the trial judge on November 11 on whether to acquit Najib or call for him to enter his defense. — Reuters