1MDB trial postponed due to quarantined lawyer

KUALA LUMPUR: The RM2.28bil 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak this week is postponed due to Covid-19 concerns as one of the lawyers has to be quarantined.

Lawyer Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee, who is part of the defence team, confirmed that one of his colleagues became a close contact of Covid-19 patients.

This would also affect Najib’s appeal in the RM42mil SRC International Sdn Bhd case at the Court of Appeal, he said.

“Both the SRC appeal and the 1MDB trial had to be vacated this week because a key member of our team has to undergo testing and quarantine due to a significant close contact to a number of confirmed Covid-19 patients.

“Considering the rest of the team has been working closely with him, the necessary precautions need to be taken, ” Muhammad Farhan said via text yesterday.

The 1MDB trial was initially scheduled for a two-day hearing on Monday and Tuesday, while the SRC appeal was scheduled to resume on Thursday.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said the defence had sent a letter to inform the court late Friday evening.

“Based on those reasons, the court allowed (the postponement), ” he said.

Former 1MDB Ceo Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, the 10th prosecution witness, is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes.

The next date scheduled for the 1MDB hearing is May 17.

This is not the first time Covid-19 scares have derailed the trial.

In March last year, a similar situation arose as the defence team was said to have been in proximity with a person who was suspected of having contracted the Covid-19 virus.

Najib, 68, 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.

In the SRC case, Najib is appealing against his conviction and sentence. He was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and a RM210mil fine after he was found guilty on seven charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of position involving the misappropriation of RM42mil from SRC’s coffers.

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