Saturday, December 4, 2021

1MDB run like ‘a Chinese coffee shop in Petaling Street’, says Sri Ram

He also hit out at today's cross-examination of former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, calling it irrelevant to Najib's defence.

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Senior deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram today told the High Court in the trial of former prime minister Najib Razak for the alleged appropriation of RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds that the state investment arm was run like “a Chinese coffee shop in Petaling Street”.

Sri Ram, a former Federal Court judge, said this when objecting to the cross-examination by lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed of former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, which he said was irrelevant to Najib’s defence.

“We agree on that for what it’s worth, the affairs of 1MDB are run along the lines and managed like a Chinese coffee shop in Petaling Street.

“Our case is that Jho Low (fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho) was the alter ego and mirror image of the accused (Najib) and that they were working together… we only tolerate this line of cross-examination because it is completely irrelevant to our case,” Sri Ram told judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Earlier, Sequerah had questioned Wan Aizuddin’s line of questioning Hazem, who is the 10th prosecution witness, on a prospectus submitted to Bursa Malaysia for a proposed listing of initial public offering (IPO) for a subsidiary of 1MDB, 1MDB Energy.

Wan Aizuddin, representing Najib, said it was to show the mismanagement in 1MDB, for which his client was blamed.

In response to Wan Aizuddin’s question, the 49-year-old witness said he only had basic knowledge of the IPO and was only aware about the draft of the prospectus, adding that he was unable to recall the exact date of the prospectus’ submission to Bursa in 2014.

However, Wan Aizuddin continued pressing the witness on the issuance of the 1MDB Energy IPO.

He said like the prosecution, the defence also needed to prove its case that there was misconduct and negligence in the affairs of 1MDB committed by Jho Low.

Sequerah then asked Wan Aizuddin to continue with the next line of questioning and told him to put his contention in submissions later.

“If the witness tells you he doesn’t know, then stop there and include it in your submission,” he said.

Najib, 68, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before Sequerah continues.

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