Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) criminal trial will start on Aug 28, rules the High Court on Friday (Aug 23).
Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah decided on the date after Najib’s counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, requested that the trial start on Sept 3 because the defence team needed time to prepare.
“Yesterday (Aug 22), we were served with another two volumes of documents,” said Shafee, adding that the defence would appreciate a later date, as it was already having difficulty with earlier documents.
“Ideally, it should start on Sept 3, but at worst end of next week.
“We ask that you use discretion and give us a bit more time for us to prepare,” he requested.
Prosecutor for the SRC International trial, Datuk V. Sithambaram, also said the prosecution needed time to conclude reexamination of the last witness.
He added that the defence was also still in the midst of cross-examining the witness.
Sequerah also asked lead Prosecutor for the 1MDB trial Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on whether he could start on Aug 28.
“Wednesday (Aug 28) morning, we can open our case; we have six formal witnesses,” said Gopal.
Najib, 66, faces 25 charges – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.3bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.
Najib was charged for the four abuse of power charges under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, punishable under Section 24 (1) of the same law.
He faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum, or value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.
He was alleged to have committed the offences at the Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmIslamic Bank Bhd, at 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24,2011 and Dec 19,2014.
For the 21 money-laundering charges, Najib was charged under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act (Amlatfa), which carries a maximum fine of RM5mil and a jail term of five years, or both, if convicted.
He is alleged to have committed the offences at the same bank between March 22,2013 and Aug 30,2013.