Najib fails in last-ditch bid to delay 1MDB trial

Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court on July 15, 2019.  The country's highest court ruled on Aug 13 that he will face trial as scheduled next week.
Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court on July 15, 2019. The country's highest court ruled on Aug 13 that he will face trial as scheduled next week.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's highest court has ruled that former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak will face trial as scheduled next week, despite a last-ditch attempt by his defence team to delay the proceedings.

Najib faces trial on 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power over allegations that RM2.28 billion (S$754 million) was transferred from state development fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to his personal bank account.

A five-judge federal court yesterday unanimously upheld a decision by a lower court to hold the trial on Aug 19, with Chief Justice Tengku Maimun saying that "there was no error in (the High Court's) judgment".

The ruling exhausts all legal options for either the defence or prosecution to delay the trial any further, Free Malaysia Today reported.

1MDB is the subject of an international graft investigation over suspicions that US$4.5 billion (S$6.25 billion) of public money was misappropriated by high-ranking Malaysian officials, including the former premier, his family and closest aides.

Najib is currently facing a separate trial on seven charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption stemming from illegal transactions totalling US$10 million from former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International to his personal bank account.

The scandal surrounding 1MDB, which was set up by Najib in 2009 to promote foreign investment in the country, was instrumental in his ouster from government.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed has made recovering assets purchased with 1MDB money - which includes a US$126 million superyacht, luxury properties in New York and Los Angeles and diamond jewellery - one of his government's top priorities since the election in May last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2019, with the headline 'Najib fails in last-ditch bid to delay 1MDB trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe