Najib's 1MDB trial on hold to let him attend Malaysia's political events

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak and his supporters arriving at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on June 1, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - The 1MDB trial for former Malaysian leader Najib Razak has been put on hold, allowing him to join the political campaign at an upcoming by-election and deliver a speech when Parliament sits.

The judge agreed to continue the proceedings on July 17, after Najib's lawyer submitted a request to vacate the trial on Thursday (July 2) because of a Foreign Ministry meeting he had to attend.

The lawyer then requested a later resumption to let Najib join the Chini state seat by-election campaign this week and attend a Parliament session set to begin on July 13.

The trial revolves around corruption and money laundering charges involving US$681 million (S$949 million) that appeared in Najib's personal bank accounts. The accusations are linked to his role in 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the Malaysian state fund that is at the centre of global investigations.

Najib was ousted as prime minister in the 2018 election that saw Malaysians rallying against the 1MDB scandal and high costs of living. That led to the country's first change of government since its independence and a crackdown against those involved in the troubled state fund.

Following a political turmoil in February, Najib's party has since returned to the ruling administration, spurring concern over the ongoing 1MDB trials and investigations.

Current Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has pledged to continue fighting corruption, even as his government faced backlash for agreeing to a settlement with Najib's stepson in a separate case involving 1MDB funds.

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