Malaysia ex-PM Najib's 1MDB graft trial resumes

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak (centre) arriving at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, on April 15, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Toppled Malaysian leader Najib Razak returned to court for the second day of his high-profile corruption trial on Monday (April 15), with the former premier accused of plundering large sums from a unit of sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The 65-year-old finally went on trial this month over his alleged role in looting the investment vehicle, the first of several court cases he is expected to face over the controversy.

The former prime minister and his cronies are accused of stealing billions of dollars from 1MDB and spending it on everything from high-end real estate to artworks and a luxury yacht.

The allegations played a large part in prompting voters to oust his corruption-plagued coalition, which had been in power for six decades, at historic elections last year. Since then, Najib has been arrested and hit with dozens of charges over the scandal.

The former leader's highly anticipated trial began on April 3, with Najib denying seven charges related to the theft of 42 million ringgit (S$13.8 million) from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.

It is just a fraction of the money Najib is alleged to have stolen.

He arrived at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Monday for the second day of proceedings, wearing a dark suit and tie, and passed through a scrum of journalists before entering the courtroom and taking his seat in the dock.

Proceedings began with the defence team cross-examining Companies Commission of Malaysia official Muhamad Akmaluddin Abdullah, who had testified when the trial opened, on technical matters related to corporate records.

Opening the prosecution's case earlier this month, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas told the court that Najib was "not above the law" despite having been premier for almost a decade.

Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing over the looting of 1MDB.

The US Department of Justice, which is investigating the 1MDB controversy, as money was allegedly laundered through the American financial system, believes US$4.5 billion (S$6.1 billion) in total was looted from the fund.

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