Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (left) and former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy arriving separately at Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning. Pix by NSTP/Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali

KUALA LUMPUR: The trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy who were charged with tampering an audit report on the state fund is set to commence in November.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan fixed 15 days for the trial after Najib and Arul Kanda maintained their not guilty plea when the charges were re-read to them at the High Court during case mention today.

The trial would be held from Nov 18 to 29, and Jan 13 to 17.

Deputy public prosecutor Fatnin Yusof said the prosecution would call about 30 witnesses to testify.

“We will commence a joint-trial for both of the accused even though they were separately charged,” she said.

Najib and Arul Kanda were represented by counsels Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and Datuk N. Sivananthan, respectively.

The court fixed Aug 29 for case management.

On Dec 12, Arul Kanda was charged at the Sessions Court with committing the offence between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.

He allegedly abetted Najib, 66, in using the latter’s position as then prime minister to order the amendment to the report.

The offence was allegedly committed at Kompleks Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Putrajaya.

If convicted under Section 24 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, Arul Kanda faces a maximum 20-year jail term, and a fine no less than five times the graft involved or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

He was released on a RM500,000 bail.

On Nov 25, Auditor-General Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad said Najib had instructed for amendments to be made to the 1MDB final audit report, with the exclusion of several paragraphs in the report.

Among the information allegedly excluded from the report include the presence of fugitive entrepreneur Low Taek Jho or Jho Low in a 1MDB board meeting.