Reports by CHELSEA L.Y.NG, QISHIN TARIQ, NURBAITI HAMDAN, ROYCE TAN, FATIMAH ZAINAL, ASHLEY TANG, RAZAK AHMAD, EDDIE CHUA, JOSEPH KAOS Jr, ALEX TENG and RASHVINJEET S. BEDI
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak sported a calm demeanour as he faced the court and pleaded not guilty to a charge of abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
The former prime minister, 64, posted RM500,000 bail at the end of the day and returned to the comfort of his Jalan Langgak Duta home after spending a night at the MACC headquarters the night before.
He looked forlorn as he stood before a judge yesterday to answer to a charge of using his positions as the prime minister and finance minister to receive a RM42mil gratification when he took part in the Government’s decision in providing a guarantee for a RM4bil loan from the Retirement Fund Inc to SRC International Sdn Bhd, a unit of 1MDB.
Najib allegedly committed the offence at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 8, 2012.
Watching his every move in the standard courtroom were a bunch of lawyers, prosecutors and journalists.
Najib also faces three counts of CBT under Section 409 of the Penal Code.
According to the charge sheets, as the then prime minister, finance minister and adviser emeritus of SRC International, he was entrusted with SRC’s monies amounting to RM4bil.
He also allegedly misappropriated RM27mil and RM5mil in two transactions between Dec 24 and 29, 2014.
In the third CBT charge, Najib was accused of misappropriating RM10mil between Feb 10 and March 2, 2015, from the same RM4bil entrusted to him.
All of the CBT offences were allegedly committed at AmIslamic Bank Bhd, Bangunan Ambank Group, No. 55, Jalan Raja Chulan here.
The charges under Section 409 of the Penal Code are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, whipping and a fine if convicted.
The charges were first brought before Sessions Court judge Zainal Abidin Kamarudin.
It was later transferred to the High Court at the request of Attorney General Tommy Thomas, who led the prosecution team.
Najib’s plea was recorded in the High Court, where he claimed trial to all the charges after they were read out for the second time.
Thomas proposed bail at RM4mil in cash in two sureties and ordered Najib to surrender his passport.
Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah objected to the high amount of bail on the grounds that his client was not a flight risk.
He asked for bail between RM500,000 and RM800,000 in two sureties.
The two sparred for nearly an hour on the bail amount before the court decided on RM1mil in cash in two sureties.
Najib was ordered to surrender both his Malaysian and diplomatic passports.
The court also granted an interim gag order prohibiting the media from publishing or discussing the merits of the case.
Justice Mohd Sofian Abd Razak allowed the interim gag order, but instructed the defence to prepare for a formal application, which will be heard on Aug 8 along with case management.
Muhammad Shafee and Thomas then argued about the handing over of case documents before the trial started.
Thomas said Muhammad Shafee’s request to get all papers before the trial dates had been set was unreasonable.
Muhammad Shafee replied: “If you charge him today, it means you are ready. I can’t imagine you would charge someone but the documents are not ready. Just photostat the documents and hand them over to us.”
The court then tentatively set 19 days for trial next year, with dates on Feb 18 to 28, March 4 to 8 and March 11 to 15, 2019.
Later outside the courtroom, Muhammad Shafee told reporters that he would ask the court to remove Thomas as lead prosecutor during the next case management, as Thomas had made prejudicial statements about Najib even before the latter was charged.
Muhammad Shafee claimed that such a move was improper conduct for an AG leading the prosecution.