Saturday, October 31, 2020

1MDB Money Laundering Case: Najib’s defence call for Jho Low to be produced in court

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The defence team of Datuk Seri Najib Razak urged for 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) linked fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, to be produced as soon as possible.

Counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Jho Low should quickly be brought in so that the court could determine the truth in the former prime minister’s case.

“The Inspector-General of police (IGP) has said not more than a month ago that they (the police) got Jho Low and they know exactly where he is.

“The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister said they must get Jho Low.

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“I would like to invite that Jho Low be produced as soon as possible so that we could determine the truth, ” he said.

Muhammad Shafee, who is the lead counsel for Najib, said this in his submissions in hearsay application against the evidence of former 1MDB chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

Shahrol Azral, 49, who took the stand yesterday as the ninth prosecution witness in Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds, had described the close relationship between the former prime minister and Jho Low.

To this, Muhammad Shafee said it was all ‘hearsay’ since nobody could prove what the witness said since Jho Low was not around.

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He submitted that hearsay evidence, in general, could not be admissible unless Jho Low is being called to court.

“Natural justice is totally removed because I have no chance of cross-examining Jho Low, ” Muhammad Shafee said.

He further added that whatever the witness heard from Jho Low may not be the truth as the eighth witness, Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who was Najib’s former special officer, in his testimony had labelled Jho Low as a ‘master manipulator’.

“Why must we accept his (Jho Low) words when he manipulated the entire event, TIA, 1MDB and in fact the PM (prime minister), ” he said.

To rebut the defence, lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said the prosecution was entitled to show that Najib was not and could not have been misled by Jho Low.

He recalled Amhari’s testimony that Najib did not make any adverse response or appear surprised at all when informed of Jho Low’s instructions through a draft of a letter.

“This is conduct accompanying the words spoken by Jho Low, ” he said.

Sri Ram also said the cases relied on by the defence in their submissions was inapplicable in the fact pattern of the current case which he described as unique.

He said this was because the accused was not an ordinary person but the prime minister and the most powerful person in the country (when the alleged offences were committed).

“For those reasons, we respectfully submit that what Shahrol Azral said, what Amhari said, how they acted upon Jho Low’s statement, how they verified with the accused and the accused’s state of mind and Jho Low’s are all relevant, ” he said, adding that it was circumstantial evidence.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah reserved his judgment.

The trial continues with Shahrol Azral taking the stand.

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Najib, 66, faced four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion in the 1MDB fund and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The Pekan MP allegedly perpetrated the offence at the AmIslamic Bank Berhad Branch, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24,2011 and Dec 19,2014 while for all charges of money laundering was between March 22,2013 and Aug 30,2013, at the same place.

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