Malaysia appoints two senior private lawyers to assist in Najib Razak case and 1MDB probe

Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak has been charged with criminal breach of trust and abuse of power.
Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak has been charged with criminal breach of trust and abuse of power.PHOTO: AFP

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia has appointed two senior private practitioners to assist the government in the criminal case against former prime minister Najib Razak and its investigations into 1MDB, in a move the Attorney-General said showed its commitment to going after "those responsible for the greatest kleptocracy in the history of the world".

In a statement issued on Friday (Aug 31), AG Tommy Thomas said the two lawyers - renown barrister Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah and retired Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram - had agreed to waive their fees and act on a pro bono basis.

Najib has been charged with criminal breach of trust and abuse of power relating to RM42 million (S$14 million) received into his personal accounts from SRC International, a former subsidiary of troubled state fund 1MDB. His seven-week trial is set to run from Feb 12 to March 29 next year.

Mr Thomas, who has been in office for nearly three months, said the demands of matters of state meant he did not have time to focus on prosecuting the case.

Mr Sulaiman, who has substantial experience in criminal law, will lead the prosecution in the case.

Meanwhile Mr Sri Ram has been appointed senior deputy public prosecutor to spearhead the process of studying investigation papers, preparing charges and prosecuting at trials relating to the multi-billion dollar money-laundering scandal at 1MDB.

"With the twin appointments of the leading lights in the Malaysian Bar, our commitment to prosecuting those responsible for the greatest kleptocracy in the history of the world with the gravity that it deserves, and that ordinary Malaysians expect, cannot be doubted," said Mr Thomas.