Kuala Lumpur, 24 August — With the country having been caught up with political developments and intrigue, it was quite easy to have overlooked at some of the criminal prosecution developments against several politicians.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the more prominent trials currently ongoing.
Najib, 68, is charged with 25 counts of abuse of power and money laundering involving RM2.28bil of 1MDB funds.
The 1MDB linked corruption trial involving Najib, accused of laundering RM27mil of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds scheduled to begin on August 2nd was postponed by the High Court.
On August 11th, The Court of Appeal disallowed an application by lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah, appearing for Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his son Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin, to refer constitutional issues involving Section 106 (3) of the Income Tax Act to the Federal Court.
The Court of Appeal judge said the court would prefer to proceed with the appeal proper, which would cover the constitutional issues as well as other issues. Justice Abdul Karim, who presided with Justices Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera and Datuk Supang Lian, subsequently fixed Sept 9 to hear the appeals.
On August 17th, Hazem Abdul Rahman, former CEO of 1MDB told the High Court that Jho Low was present at 1MDB-related meetings that involved Najib, although there was no reason for him to be there. He further claimed instructions from Jho Low were as good as instructions from Najib.
On Aug 18, the court allowed Najib’s application for a short adjournment of the trial to attend a critical meeting between the coalition’s leaders to discuss the issue of the appointment of the new prime minister. The judge said that he only allowed the request due to the peculiar circumstance of the country’s situation.
During the trial, Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah claimed that Hazem was the one who had committed various wrongdoings in the company.
On August 19th, High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah furiously rebuked Najib as he was absent in court for his 1MDB trial. Najib’s lawyer informed the court that the Pekan MP had been summoned to Istana Negara.
Later when the trial commenced, Mohd Hazem denied that he failed to disclose to the company’s directors about a purported buyback agreement with a fake company to protect his salary and annual bonus amounting to RM2.72 million.
Mohd Hazem also told the High Court that the 1MDB had paid Bloomberg to list one of its funds to improve poor public perception of the investment portfolio.
Zahid faces 20 years’ imprisonment on 33 charges of receiving bribes amounting to some RM42 million from a company to extend its contract as operator of the foreign visa system.
His trial will likely be postponed for the third time as the Umno president has been admitted to a private hospital in Shah Alam. His trial, postponed twice due to MCO, was to resume on the 24th of August.
The High Court issued a subpoena for the attending doctor who is treating Zahid, to explain the latter’s medical condition.
Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah issued the subpoena for the doctor from Avisena Specialist Hospital in Shah Alam after the court was informed that Zahid was unable to attend his corruption trial today.
The High Court is scheduled to hear submissions at the end of prosecution from today and on September 6 to September 9.
Lim Guan Eng
The former Penang chief minister is facing four charges in relation to the undersea tunnel project. He is accused of soliciting a 10% cut in profits from the project from Consortium Zenith BUCG’s managing director Datuk Zarul Ahmad, of seeking RM3.3 million in kickbacks to appoint Zarul’s company to undertake the project, and of dishonestly misappropriating RM208.7 million worth of state land to two companies.
On August 16th, Former Penang exco member Datuk Lim Hock Seng told the Sessions Court that Guan Eng did not disclose in exco meetings that he had prior discussions with Datuk Zarul over the construction of the multibillion-ringgit undersea tunnel project.
On August 19th, Datuk Lim testified that there was no indication in the MoU signed between the Penang state government and Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) in 2011 that the undersea tunnel project would be awarded by way of open tender.
Datuk Lim, who was previously in charge of public works, public utilities, and transportation also told the sessions court that the payment to the contractor was made according to proper procedures, saying that the payment, in the form of a land swap, was approved by the Penang executive council.
On August 20th, the KL Sessions Court was told by the prosecution’s fourth witness, Muhamad Azrai, that Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) supposedly had an advantage over other bidders in tendering for the Penang undersea tunnel project as it participated in several state government meetings, over a year before the project was eventually awarded.
Muhamad Azrai, who was with the State Economic Planning Unit also told the court that there was a conflict of interest on the part of the contractor, who sat in meetings together with state officers.
He said it was not proper for Consortium Zenith BUCG representatives to sit with them to provide suggestions on preparing the request for proposal (RFP) papers before an open tender was called.