Ex-1MDB CEO Hazem to read witness statement in full, court rules

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 10 Sep 2020

Former 1MDB CEO Hazem Abdul Rahman - RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman will be able to read his witness statement in full as he takes the stand next Monday (Sept 14) after the High Court ruled that his evidence must be admitted in its entirety.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah made his ruling after hearing further submissions by both parties here on Thursday (Sept 10).

In his ruling, the judge said it was premature to decide on the admissibility issue of Hazem's evidence at this juncture and he suspended the decision to determine whether the evidence was indeed hearsay until the end of the prosecution's case.

On Monday (Sept 7), the defence of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is accused of misappropriating RM2.28bil from 1MDB's funds, raised the issue on Hazem's witness statement despite it not being read in court yet as it claimed some paragraphs were hearsay and therefore inadmissible.

The disputed paragraphs were on the involvement of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, and how the witness was purportedly told by Low that 1MDB was formed to channel funds to Umno when Najib was its president.

The defence applied to the court to remove the disputed paragraphs from the witness statement but this was objected by the prosecution who insisted the evidence must be read in its totality as it formed "part of the transaction".

Justice Sequerah said if the passages were excluded, the prosecution could be deprived of the opportunity to include their evidence in court.

"The prosecution may be prejudiced if they are not able to unfold their narrative," he said.

In the case that the evidence did fall under hearsay rules, Justice Sequerah opined that the evidence would be excluded from his findings altogether.

Justice Sequerah also said that the defence has the ability to tailor its arguments in advance during cross-examination of the witness.

During the height of the 1MDB scandal, not much was known about Hazem, who joined 1MDB as a COO in August 2012.

He took over as CEO from Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi on March 25,2013, before stepping down in January 2015.

Hazem's position was replaced by Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.28bil in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

The hearing continues on Monday with Hazem to appear before the court.

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