Najib’s 1MDB corruption trial to proceed, says Malaysian court
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak's first trial linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal will proceed after a judge yesterday ruled that prosecutors had made a sufficient case, boosting efforts to bring him to justice over the mammoth fraud.
Vast sums were plundered from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in a multi-billion-dollar scam allegedly involving Najib and his cronies, which has triggered investigations globally.
His coalition was ousted at the polls last year after six decades in power largely due to the scandal. 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 centring on the transfer of RM42 million (S$14 million) from a former 1MDB unit into his bank account. Najib denies any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors finished presenting their evidence in August, and yesterday, High Court judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali ruled the case was strong enough to go forward and Najib should enter his defence.
"The accused had enormous and overarching influence" over the 1MDB unit, SRC International, the judge told the court.
"It was under the control of the accused from day one. The accused wielded considerable power."
Najib, who remains free on bail, was in court for the decision and hung his head as the ruling was read out.
In their closing submissions last month, prosecutors said Najib acted like an "emperor" in overseeing massive graft at the former 1MDB unit.
His defence team, however, had said the bulk of evidence does not lead to "any finding of culpability" on Najib's part.
Najib is facing four charges of corruption and three money-laundering counts in the trial.
The amounts involved in Najib's first trial are small, however, compared to those in his second and most significant one - which centres on allegations he illicitly obtained over US$500 million (S$680 billion) from 1MDB.
The US authorities, who are investigating the fund as money was allegedly laundered through the US financial system, believe US$4.5 billion was looted from 1MDB. - AFP