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Ex-Premier Najib's Home Upgrades in Trial Spotlight: 1MDB Update

Anisah Shukry
Ex-Premier Najib's Home Upgrades in Trial Spotlight: 1MDB Update

(Bloomberg) -- The trial of former Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak has seen witnesses questioned, checks shown and email transcripts requested since kicking off on April 3.

The first of Najib’s criminal cases to come to trial revolves around his role in 1MDB’s former unit SRC International Sdn. He faces one charge of abuse of power, three counts of money laundering involving 42 million ringgit ($10 million) and three counts of criminal breach of trust.

Key Developments:

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said in his opening statement that Najib’s trial shows that all are equal before the lawThe trial has moved to the seventh witness, a specialist plumber, after hearing from employees at the central bank, check-processing facility and the Companies Commission of Malaysia, as well as an interior designerIn a separate case, Goldman’s pretrial hearing was delayed to June 24 to give prosecutors more time to serve summons against two of the three Goldman units facing 1MDB-linked charges

Court examines checks and Najib’s home upgrades (April 18)

The court heard that Najib issued checks worth 10.78 million ringgit in early 2015 to recipients including his political party United Malays National Organisation, law firms and private companies.

The checks also went to an interior design company whose employee testified that he built Najib a sink, kitchen cabinets and a storehouse with 12-foot clothing racks in 2014. Another recipient was a specialist plumbing firm that built a water tank at the former premier’s Kuala Lumpur residence to resolve plumbing issues due to the house’s location on a hill.

Earlier, a check-processing officer confirmed a separate 20 million ringgit check issued by SRC to its corporate responsibility arm Ihsan Perdana Sdn. in December 2014. The following March, Ihsan Perdana received 103,361 ringgit from an unnamed company.

The court will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Monday.

Najib’s defense seeks Jho Low’s texts and emails (April 17)

The judge ordered the central bank witness to produce email and phone transcripts obtained in the AmBank raid, including exchanges between AmBank officers and former SRC and 1MDB officers, as well as Low Taek Jho. Known as Jho Low, he has been painted by U.S. prosecutors as the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.

The request was put in by Najib’s defense, who cited books written about 1MDB to show why the transcripts are relevant to the case. Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah mentioned the Billion Dollar Whale and The Sarawak Report, which he said contained “a lot of truth” and so the text conversations cited in those articles are also germane.

The cross examination of the central bank witness is postponed pending the transcripts.

Central bank witness led a raid for Najib’s files (April 15)

An investigation officer at Bank Negara Malaysia was the second witness in Najib’s trial. He said he led a raid into AmBank’s branch in July 2015 to get files on the setting up of accounts under Najib’s name, SRC International Sdn. and Gandingan Mentari Sdn. These were the accounts mentioned in charge sheets against Najib. The witness said the raid, done during Najib’s time as prime minister, was commissioned due to suspected offences under the anti-money laundering law.

The proceeding was held up for more than an hour as the prosecution needed to put evidence documents in order. The trial was then adjourned until Tuesday morning as the prosecution asked for more time to photocopy the files.

Further Reading:

The Long List of Charges Against Najib as 1MDB Trial Kicks OffThe 1MDB Deals That Continue to Haunt Goldman Sachs: QuickTakeGoldman Sachs Prepares to Face Malaysian Legal System: QuickTake

To contact the reporter on this story: Anisah Shukry in Kuala Lumpur at ashukry2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Yudith Ho at yho35@bloomberg.net, Chan Tien Hin

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