Kuala Lumpur — The trial of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the 1MDB scandal began on Wednesday, August 28.
This time, the former Prime Minister is facing 21 counts of money laundering as well as four counts of abuse of power. According to prosecutors, Mr Najib covered up and received illegal transfers for at least RM2.3 billion (S$ 764 million) from the year 2011 through 2014.
According to prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram, Mr Najib was one of the central figures in the 1MDB scandal. Mr Sri Ram said, “His objective was to enrich himself,”and told the court how the funds were channeled into Mr Najib’s personal accounts.
The prosecutor also said that the former Prime Minister made use of his role as Chairman of the 1MDB board of advisers, prime minister and minister of finance “to exert influence over the board of 1MDB to carry out certain abnormal transactions with undue haste”.
He added, “An elaborate charade was employed. It was acted out in four phases in which several characters played a part.”
The prosecutor also made mention of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, more commonly known as Jho Low, saying he was also a key figure in the scandal.”The prosecution will establish facts, which will give rise to an irresistible inference that Jho Low and the accused acted as one at all material times.”
The former Prime Minister faces a total of 42 criminal charges of corruption and money laundering at 1MDB as well as various other state-owned entities.
He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges leveled against him. His wife, Rosmah Mansor is also facing money-laundering and tax evasion charges, to which she has also pleaded not guilty.
Malaysia’s Inland Revenue Board (IRB) recently announced that it is going after the children of Mr Najib. Thirty-six-year-old Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin Mohd Najib, allegedly owes the government more than RM37.6 million (S$52 million) in unpaid taxes from 2011 to 2017, while his sister, Nooryana Najwa Najib, age 31, allegedly owes RM10.3 million (S$3.4 million) in unpaid taxes for the same period.
The 1MDB scandal is the biggest financial controversy in Malaysia’s history spawning investigations in at least six different countries. This includes the United States, where the Department of Justice has claimed it believes US $4.5 billion (over S$ 6 billion) was misappropriated from the state sovereign wealth fund.
The legal team representing Mr Najib endeavored to delay this 1MDB trial until the current SRC trial in Malaysia’s High Court had ended. The SRC trial, which had begun four months ago, was adjourned on August 14, due to an eye infection that the former Prime Minister contracted. It ended, however, on Tuesday, August 27.
The 1MDB scandal is said to be instrumental in bringing Mr Najib down. The former Prime Minister, who had served from 2009 to 2018, lost his bid for re-election last May. Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad was elected Prime Minister. /TISG