Najib’s trial hots up as lawyers butt heads

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 18 Apr 2019

Show of support: Najib shaking hands with supporters after arriving at the Kuala Lumpur courts complex.

KUALA LUMPUR: Businessman Low Taek Jho, who is central to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal, was mentioned on the fourth day of the corruption trial involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak, which also witnessed a tense exchange between the prosecution and the defence.

The name Jho Low, as Low was commonly known, was brought up for the first time by defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh during his cross-examination of fourth witness Ahmad Farhan Sharifuddin from Bank Negara.

Ahmad Farhan, 32, is the investigating officer who instructed a raid be carried out at AmBank in Jalan Raja Chulan here on July 6, 2015.

Harvinderjit: Did you discover anything in regard to Jho Low and 1MDB?

Ahmad Farhan: I can’t recall.

Harvinderjit: About Jho Low, you cannot recall any of this?

Ahmad Farhan: Yes. It (the name) was never found in my probe.

Harvinderjit: Did Joanna Yu (relationship manager at AmBank) tell you she communicated with Jho Low regarding 1MDB?

Ahmad Farhan: I have no idea.

The counsel was about to continue his cross-examination on the topic when Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Ishak Mohd Yusoff stood up to object on grounds of relevance.

“I am objecting to this line of questioning. This hearing involves SRC International and not 1MDB,” he said.

Harvinderjit said his questions relating to 1MDB were only on the manner the state fund operated.

SRC International was a subsidiary of 1MDB.

He then continued to ask the witness about a list of companies.

The same witness told the court that the raid at AmBank was carried out because there was suspicion of illicit banking activity.

Ahmad Farhan said he received orders from Financial Intelligence and Enforcement Department director Abd Rahman Abd Bakar to investigate the Ambank group over a suspected offence under Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amlatfpuaa) 2001.

He said a team was instructed to seize evidence from the branch office.

The team included search officer Azizul Adzani Abdul Ghafar, 41, who obtained four folders of documents related to the opening of Najib’s bank accounts, three more folders with documents for opening SRC’s accounts and one folder for opening an account for a subsidiary of SRC, Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd.

Earlier, a war of words took place when the defence team disputed the prosecution’s re-examination methods.

During re-examination of Azizul Adzani, the second witness, Harvin­derjit said the prosecution should only question matters raised during the cross-examination.

“This is a re-examination ... perhaps my learned friend should refer to the questions and answers,” he said.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas stood up to say that each had his own style of examination-in-chief, cross-­examination or re-examination.

“We do not need the defence lecturing us. We don’t need the defence’s lawyer to suggest methods of re-­examination.

“We listened to five hours of cross-examination. We gave him (Harvinderjit) leeway ... can there be some leeway (for the prosecution)?

“The style of examination differs for each lawyer. I have been doing trials for 42 years,” he said.

Harvinderjit replied that he was not suggesting any particular examination style to the prosecution.

“The way the prosecution is asking questions is like putting words in the witness’ mouth,” he said.

Harvinder added that it was not about experience, but according to Section 138, Sub-section 3 of the Evidence Act 1950, the re-examination should be directed to the explanation of matters referring to the cross-examination.

“This is not a matter of time, my Lord.

“There must be context, whether questions are specific,” he said.

After hearing both parties’ arguments, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said, “just mention the points that you want to re-examine”.

On July 4, 2018, Najib, 65, claimed trial to a charge of abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust linked to the 1MDB scandal.

The former prime minister allegedly misappropriated RM42mil in funds belonging to SRC International.

On Aug 8, he appeared in court again for the second time and was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same RM42mil.

The trial continues today.

Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday fixed May 17 for mention of Najib’s case on three money-laundering charges involving RM27mil of SRC International funds five years ago.

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