Malaysian ex-PM Najib’s first 1MDB trial to proceed in December

Source:AFP Published: 2019/11/11 19:48:40

Malaysian ex-leader Najib Razak's first trial linked to the 1MDB scandal will proceed after a judge ruled Monday prosecutors had made a sufficient case, boosting efforts to bring him to justice over the mammoth fraud.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) arrives at the high court in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 3, 2019. A Malaysian court started hearings Wednesday on the corruption charges against former Prime Minister Najib Razak after previous delays.Photo: Xinhua

The former prime minister will take the stand next month when his defense begins, in the case related to the theft of billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

His coalition was ousted at the polls last year after six decades in power, largely due to the scandal, and he has since been arrested and hit with dozens of charges linked to the looting of the investment vehicle.

The 66-year-old went on trial for the first time in April over the controversy, in a case centering on the transfer of 42 million ringgit ($10.1 million) from a former 1MDB unit into his bank account. Najib denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors finished presenting their evidence in August, and on Monday High Court judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali ruled the case was strong enough to go forward and Najib should enter his defense.

"The accused had enormous and overarching influence" over the 1MDB unit, SRC International, the judge told the court, adding the prosecution had established Najib has a case to answer for all seven charges he is facing.

"It was under the control of the accused from day one. The accused wielded considerable power."

The alternative would have been to strike out the charges in the case - although Najib is still facing several other cases linked to 1MDB, with his biggest trial over the scandal having opened in August.

Monday's decision will be a relief for Malaysia's government and 94-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who came to power partly on a pledge to get to the bottom of the 1MDB scandal and bring those involved to justice.

Lawyers for Najib, who is free on bail, said he would take the stand when the defence stage of proceedings gets underway on December 3.

The bank says it will fight the charges.


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