Najib’s trial adjourned for defence to review witness evidence

Former SRC International Sdn Bhd chairman Ismee Ismail has been on the witness stand since Monday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Day 24 of Najib Razak’s corruption and abuse of power trial came to an abrupt end today when the defence asked for an adjournment to review the evidence of former SRC International Sdn Bhd chairman Ismee Ismail.

Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali that the defence needed time to hold a discussion among members of the legal team and to obtain instruction from their client.

“We need to study certain documents, some of which were not produced by the prosecution, and we need to go through the transcript of evidence given by the witness,” he said.

Shafee then applied for the trial to be adjourned until tomorrow for the defence to decide on its next course of action.

Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram said the prosecution had no objection to the application.

“The defence is alleging some material contradiction in the witness evidence, and it is best that they study it before they make the next move,” he said, adding that at the end of the day, any application must not be an exercise in futility.

Cross-examination by Najib’s other counsel Harvinderjit Singh also came to a halt earlier as the lawyer said there appeared to be inconsistencies between the evidence and the witness statement given by Ismee to Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigators.

Ismee, the 39th prosecution witness, has been on the witness stand since Monday.

Harvinderjit said Ismee, in his statement, had said that the SRC International board of directors took orders from Najib as he was adviser emeritus of the company.

However, the lawyer said Ismee had testified in court that the board obtained instruction from its shareholder.

Ismee disagreed with the lawyer, saying he had told the MACC investigators that the board also followed the shareholder resolution.

SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB, was fully owned by the Finance Ministry Incorporated during Najib’s time as finance minister.

The prosecution is contending that the true power in directing and managing the affairs of 1MDB and SRC International lay not with the board of directors, as required by law, but with Najib.

The former prime minister was also chair of the 1MDB board of advisers.

Najib, 66, is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abusing his position and three counts of money laundering over SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.

He is also accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.

The Pekan MP was charged with committing the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd in Jalan Raja Chulan and the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 10, 2015.