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Najib’s trial starts to lay out money trail

Pauline Wong
Pauline Wong4/22/2019 08:00 AM GMT+08  • 3 min read
Najib’s trial starts to lay out money trail
SINGAPORE (Apr 22): Witnesses in the trial of Malaysia’s disgraced former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak have started to help piece together the money trail from SRC International that allegedly led to his personal accounts in a local bank.
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SINGAPORE (Apr 22): Witnesses in the trial of Malaysia’s disgraced former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak have started to help piece together the money trail from SRC International that allegedly led to his personal accounts in a local bank.

Day 2 of Najib’s trial on April 15 began with the testimony of the prosecution’s first witness, Muhammad Akmaludin Abdullah, assistant registrar of the Companies Commission of Malaysia (known by its Malay initials as SSM). According to reports, Akmaludin told the court that SRC International, then a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd, had a paid-up capital of RM1 million when it registered with SSM on Jan 7, 2011. He disclosed that checks with the shareholder registry showed all one million shares in the company were held by the Finance Ministry (Inc), a government-linked corporate body under the prime minister’s purview.

Akmaludin also testified and tendered documents related to the formation of SRC International, the board of directors and changes in the board, as well as its subsidiaries Ihsan Perdana and Gandingan Mentari. Funds were allegedly channelled through the latter two entities and eventually ended up in Najib’s personal bank accounts.

On April 16, the prosecution’s second witness, Azizul Adzani Abdul Ghafar, an officer with Bank Negara Malaysia (the central bank), testified that he led a team to AmBank Group’s KL headquarters on July 6, 2015 to raid the premises and retrieve details of the accounts owned by Najib, SRC International and Gandingan Mentari. The raid, the court heard, was on the instructions of Ahmad Farhan Sharifuddin, the investigating officer in charge of the case.

Ahmad Farhan said he received orders from Financial Intelligence and Enforcement Department director Abd Rahman Abd Bakar to probe AmBank over a suspected offence under Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

The third prosecution witness was another Bank Negara officer, Mohammad Nizam Yahya. Together, the three prosecution witnesses laid out the foundations of the money trail.

Throughout the proceedings, Najib was seen smiling and calm. He even took the time to greet reporters. He was also seen engrossed in a book during court recesses.

He faces three charges of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abuse of power and three charges of money laundering involving RM42 million allegedly from SRC International. He is said to have received the amount in three payments, of RM27 million, RM5 million and RM10 million, which he allegedly then used to fund renovations and go on a shopping spree in a luxury brand store in Honolulu, the US.

Najib’s trial kicked off on April 3, 2019 with the prosecution led by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who is assisted by senior lawyers Sulaiman Abdullah and V Sithambaram and head of the prosecution Manoj Kurup. Najib is defended by prominent lawyer Mohamad Shafee Abdullah and his legal team of 10.

The trial was to have started on Feb 12, but was delayed by an appeal over a technicality regarding its transfer from the Sessions Court to the High Court. Subsequently, that appeal hearing was delayed by another two weeks after Shafee claimed he suffered a soft-tissue injury caused by his overly playful pet dog. Shafee was accused of trying to delay the trial again by applying to have Najib’s charges declared “defective” at the eleventh hour on April 3. The judge ruled that the trial could still proceed and deferred hearing for this latest motion.

The trial finally began on April 3 and will continue until May 10, with Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali presiding.

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