High Court clears Najib, Arul Kanda of 1MDB audit tampering charges

FORMER prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was acquitted of accusations linked to tampering with 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) 2016 audit report.

The prosecution was deemed to have unable to provide evidence proving that Najib authorised the revisions to the audit report, according to Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, who was recently elevated to the appeal court.

Arul Kanda Kandasamy, the former CEO of 1MDB who had previously been charged in association with Najib, was also discharged and acquitted of every charge.

According to Bernama, Arul Kanda testified in the case last year after the judge granted the prosecution’s plea under Section 63 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to summon him as a witness.

After questioning 16 witnesses, the prosecution closed the case on Sept 7.

Among those who testified were former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh, former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, who is now deceased, former auditor-generals Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad, and former National Audit Department audit director Saadatul Nafisah Bashir Ahmad.

Najib, 70, who is currently serving a 12-year jail sentence for embezzling funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him.

Meanwhile, 46-year-old Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

The offence allegedly occurred between Feb 22 and Feb 26, 2016, at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government Administrative Center, Putrajaya.

Both were charged with violating Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act, which is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a minimum fine of RM10, 000 or five times the amount of gratification, whichever is greater.

The prosecution will be represented by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, while Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and Datuk N. Sivananthan will represent Najib and Arul Kanda, separately.

Four court proceedings involving the embezzlement of RM2.3 bil from 1MDB continue to be filed against Najib. The prosecution has investigated 44 witnesses thus far.

He also has two more cases including money laundering involving RM27 mil in SRC International funds and criminal breach of trust involving RM6.6 bil in payments to the International Petroleum Investment Company.

Both cases are now in case management. – March 3, 2023

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