KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial which start today will attempt to prove to the High Court that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low took steps to cover his tracks after the 1MDB scandal broke in early July 2015.
Senior DPP Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, a former federal court judge, in his opening statement in Najib’s 1MDB’ trial said, sham documents were produced to pretend a donation from an Arab Prince.
“Among these were letters and four cheques, each for a sum of USD25 million purportedly written out by a person said to be the Arab donor. But these cheques were never meant to be encashed and were never encashed.
“The prosecution will also produce evidence to show that the accused took active steps to evade justice. He interfered with the course of investigation of this case which has come to be known as the 1MDB Scandal.
“He took active steps to effect a cover up of his criminal acts. The prosecution will rely on all this evidence to show that the accused had the requisite mens rea when the offences with which he is charged were committed,” he told High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah on the first day of Najib’s 1MDB trial.
Explaining the case, he said the monies in the case was from a company called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, widely known as 1MDB which was originally called Terengganu Investment Authority or TIA.
He said the accused was instrumental in changing its name to 1MDB and also caused amendments to be made to the articles of the company to place himself in sole control of important matters concerning the business and affairs of the company.
“In short, he was its plenipotentiary. Additionally, he was the chairman of the company’s board of advisers.
“He used that position and that of prime minister and minister of finance to do certain acts and to exert influence over the board of 1MDB to carry out certain abnormal transactions with undue haste. The ultimate aim of the accused was to obtain gratification for himself. He succeeded in achieving that aim,” he said.
Sri Ram contended that an elaborate charade was employed and it was acted out in for phases in which several characters played a part.
Sri Ram stressed that it was the accused who played the pivotal role with his objective to enrich himself.
He said although the case was four phases, the events in respect of them were to be considered as part of a consecutive story because of the pre-arranged plan by the accused to enrich himself.
“An important character in the charade is a man called Low Taek Jho or Jho Low. He is a fugitive from justice. He was involved in TIA and later in 1MDB,” he said.
Sri Ram said the prosecution will prove that the accused by his words and conduct made it clear to 1MDB’s officers, its board and others that Jho Low was his alter ego.
“In truth, Jho Low was the accused’s mirror image. The prosecution will establish facts which will give rise to an irresistible inference that Jho Low and the accused acted as one at all material times,” said Sri Ram.
Najib, 66, is facing four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
The Pekan MP is alleged to have committed gratification offences at the AmIslamic Bank Berhad, at No. 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011 and Dec 19, 2014, while for the money laundering charges, Najib is alleged to have committed the offences at the same bank between March 22, 2013 and Aug 30, 2013.