Sri Ram: Bribed 1MDB official sought by defence could well be Najib
PUTRAJAYA (Oct 25): The prosecution in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd-Tanore (1MDB-Tanore) trial told the Court of Appeal that the former prime minister could have been the 1MDB official that received bribes from former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner.
Najib, through his lawyers, is appealing against a High Court decision to get banking documents related to US investment bank Goldman Sachs and former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s family.
During the appeal hearing on Tuesday (Oct 25), lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram told judge Datuk Seri Kamaludin Md Said that the bribed 1MDB official Leissner testified about — in the trial of ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng Chong Hwa in the Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York — could very well be Najib.
Earlier, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who was representing Najib, told the three-man Court of Appeal bench that, among others, the defence is seeking the name of the 1MDB official who Leissner had bribed.
Shafee said that he is trying to get this from the prosecution, as the US court had denied his written request for the documents.
Shafee: We wrote and sent our counsels to the US court. They shut us out. I want the name of the person Leissner bribed in 1MDB.
Kamaludin: [But] Leissner is not a prosecution witness?
Shafee: It doesn’t matter. The prosecution might not be able to call him as a witness. That doesn’t mean that it’s not being used in my case.
Sri Ram then rebutted Shafee by saying that the official Leissner had bribed could very well be Najib himself, which would be detrimental to the former PM’s defence.
Sri Ram: Leissner was talking about ‘kakitangan’ (an official) of 1MDB. Najib was a kakitangan 1MDB. He was the MO1 (Malaysian Official 1) named by the US Department of Justice. If they say Leissner gave a bribe, it could be to the accused himself. They said officers of 1MDB. He could be the officer of 1MDB. He was the chairman of the board of advisors.
Najib is seeking to obtain banking documents for use in his trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion funds from 1MDB.
He is appealing against the decision of the High Court on July 12 last year to dismiss two of his discovery applications to compel the prosecution to disclose banking documents linked to Zeti’s family over claims that her family allegedly received monies from fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.
Najib filed a court order on March 24 last year to compel the prosecution to provide several banking statements from companies including Aktis Capital Singapore Pte Ltd, Country Group Securities Public Company Ltd, ACME Time Ltd (BVI), Butamba Investments Ltd, and Central Holdings Ltd, believed to be related to Jho Low and Zeti’s family in the case.
The former Pekan Member of Parliament also filed a second application on April 7 last year, seeking to obtain the confidential settlement agreement between the Government and Goldman Sachs, which was entered in 2020, and transcripts or forensic reports on phones of Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs partner in Asia.
Najib is on trial for four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds, and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The trial is ongoing in the High Court before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Shafee: Prosecution ‘belly-dancing’ by not showing us the documents
Earlier, Shafee submitted that 19 documents sought involving companies controlled by Zeti’s family and Jho Low were with the prosecution and the Malaysian authorities, and that they were concealing it from the defence.
“They didn’t dispute that the documents exist. They’re dancing around us without telling us. This is belly-dancing. They show enough but not the whole thing,” said Shafee.
Kamaludin then responded that it was the first time he heard of this, which brought laughter to the courtroom.
Shafee said Singaporean authorities that investigated the 1MDB financial scandal in the republic had given the documents to the Malaysian authorities, including the central bank.
Sri Ram, meanwhile, said the documents sought by Najib are premature and irrelevant to his trial, adding that the former PM should apply for the documents only after being ordered to enter his defence.
Sri Ram said there was no denial of the existence of the documents, but the burden is on the defence to show that their application is founded on admissible evidence, and not hearsay evidence.
“They must prove that the documents are in our possession,” said the lawyer, adding that the prosecution will be calling Zeti to testify and answer the allegations against her and her family.
Kamaludin, flanked by judges Datuk Wira Ahmad Nasfy Yasin and Datuk Nordin Hassan, then set Dec 8 for a decision on the matter.
Najib attended the proceedings on Tuesday. He is currently serving a 12-year jail sentence after being found guilty of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
SRC is a former subsidiary of 1MDB.
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