Najib dropping Aussie handwriting expert, court told

Former prime minister Najib Razak’s defence says they have not received a report from Australian expert Steven Starch on an earlier examination of court exhibits.

KUALA LUMPUR: The defence team for Najib Razak’s SRC International case has decided against calling an Australian handwriting expert to verify the authenticity of the former prime minister’s signatures in several court exhibits.

Ad-hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram told High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali that the prosecution had received a letter from Najib’s lawyers on Feb 21, informing them that the defence was unable to proceed with the expert, Steven Starch, as “an impasse has arisen”.

The letter also said that the defence team had not been provided with Starch’s report on his earlier examination of the court exhibits.

Najib’s lawyers Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and Harvinderjit Singh confirmed the contents of the letter.

Previously, the court granted Najib’s application to call Starch to examine the authenticity of his signature on seven bank and company documents in his SRC International trial.

Six of the disputed documents are related to SRC shareholders’ minutes and the other is on the instruction to transfer money to Ambank where Najib had private accounts.

The defence said the documents might have been forged and this was only discovered during the trial but the prosecution claimed that Najib’s legal team had suspected that the documents were falsified and was communicating with a foreign expert about them.

Harvinderjit also told the court that the defence would call witness Rosman Abdullah to testify tomorrow. Rosman is Putra Perdana Berhad’s director.

The defence will also be calling former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali to testify on another date.

Earlier today, Nazlan had heard arguments from both sides over Najib’s bid to compel a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer, Mohd Nasharudin Amir, to meet with the defence team before being called to the witness stand.

The court ruled that Nasharudin, who was the former 1MDB investigating officer, could voluntarily agree to be interviewed by the defence but Najib could not compel the witness to attend interviews and answer the questions in that session.

“The intended witness is neither a prosecution witness nor offered to the defence.

“In any event, the rights of the accused to a fair trial is not compromised because he maintains the fundamental right to call the intended witness who is still subject to the subpoena and under a duty to testify truthfully if chosen to be called by the defence,” Nazlan said.

Najib is facing six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million from SRC International to his personal account.

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 Incorporated (KWAP).