Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will be jointly tried with former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arul Kanda for allegedly tampering with an audit report on the state fund, a court ruled here on Friday.
On December 12, Najib and Arul were charged separately at the Sessions Court with allegedly tampering with the final audit report on 1MDB meant to be presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), an organ of Malaysia's Parliament, tasked with reviewing the country's public accounts. The chief prosecutor for the case applied to have the duo jointly tried. The judge agreed to a joint trial and set March 1 for the case to be mentioned, Xinhua news agency reported.
Najib had been charged for using his position as Prime Minister to protect himself from ethical, civil or criminal actions against him in relation to 1MDB, by ordering the alteration of the final audit report before it was presented to the PAC. He has been already facing some 40 charges related to corruption involving billions of ringgit besides the charge of tampering. Arul, who was appointed as 1MDB CEO in 2015, was charged with abetting Najib in tampering with the report. The two had appeared in court and sat in the same dock and appeared calm.
National Audit Department Auditor-General Madinah Mohamad claimed in November that an aide to Najib had instructed her office to remove a paragraph from an audit report, which contained information including the financial status of the company and its board of director meetings.
According to the official, two crucial deletions were made to the report at the request of a private secretary of Najib in 2016, including deleting a paragraph that mentioned Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, who was reported to have played a central role in the 1MDB case.
(With inputs from agencies.)