Najib, Arul Kanda to face joint trial on 1MDB audit report tampering charge

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 4): The Sessions Court today allowed the prosecution's application to have a joint trial for former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and 1MDB former Chief Executive Officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy over alleged tampering of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) final audit report.

Judge Azura Alwi made the ruling after hearing the application  by Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who has been appointed as Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor for the trial, during mention of the case.

Subsequently, the charge against Arul Kanda, 42, was read out again to him and he maintained his innocence.

Sri Ram also informed that the prosecution would file an application to transfer the case to the High Court and Judge Azura fixed March 1 for mention.

Arul Kanda's case was previously heard before Judge Rozina Ayob and when the case was mentioned today, she allowed the case to be heard before Judge Azura.

On Dec 12, 2018, Najib, 65, pleaded not guilty to using his position to order the 1MDB final audit report to be amended before it was submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) so as to avoid any action against him.

He was charged in his capacity as a public officer, namely as the Prime Minister (then), with using the position to obtain gratification for himself, which was to evade disciplinary, civil or criminal action against him in connection with 1MDB, by ordering alterations to the 1MDB final audit report before it was finalised and tabled to the PAC, whereby he directly had an interest in.

The Pekan Member of Parliament  represented by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is  accused of committing the offence at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex ,Federal Government Administrative Centre, the Federal Territory of Putrajaya between Feb 22 and Feb 26, 2016.

He was charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 and faces imprisonment up to 20 years and fine of not less that five times the amount of the gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.

Arul Kanda was charged with abetting Najib in making amendments to the report to protect the Pekan MP from being subjected to  disciplinary, civil or criminal action in connection with MDB, at the same place and time.

The charge filed under Section 28 (1) (c) of the MACC Act 2009 read together with Section 23 (1) & 24 (1) of the same law carries a similar sentence, upon conviction.