KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak knew that money which flowed into his personal bank accounts belonged to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), but he lied to the world that it was a donation from Saudi Arabia.
Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said this in his opening statement in the 1MDB audit tampering trial involving Najib and former chief executive of the sovereign wealth fund, Arul Kanda Kandasamy, today.
The Former Federal Court judge said the prosecution will show Najib's involvement in the case which has come to be known as the “1MDB scandal”.
He said Najib had supreme power over 1MDB, and that the board and management of the company were accustomed to acting upon his direction.
"He was the shadow director of 1MDB. As such, he would be both civilly and criminally liable for any breach of duty (to) the company.
"Monies belonging to 1MDB flowed into the account of a company called Good Star Limited, which was controlled by Najib's mirror image or alter ego... a man called Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, whom the accused was particularly protective of.
"Some of those monies also went to Najib's stepson, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz," he said.
Sri Ram said Najib also received large amounts of money belonging to 1MDB.
"The adage is that ‘the truth will out’. That happened here.
"Sometime in early July 2015, the 1MDB scandal broke. It received wide publicity and Najib began to cover his tracks," he said, adding that much of what Najib had done was subject of the latter's ongoing 1MDB trial.
Touching on the latest case of audit tampering, Sri Ram said that there were passages in the Auditor-General's report that caused concern for Najib, even though they were, in fact, true.
"He became nonplussed if not agitated and he took steps to have those passages altered or removed.
"What happened was abnormal. Although the report was ready to be placed before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a meeting was convened on Feb 24, 2016 at Najib's behest. It was chaired by the chief secretary to the government and as a result of what transpired at the meeting, the passages were altered or removed."
Sri Ram said Arul Kanda had, preceding the meeting and after that, abetted and aided Najib in the transaction.
He said the prosecution will, through direct and circumstantial evidence, prove the extent to which the accused went to remove material from an official record to prevent disclosure of the true state of affairs.
"Najib knew that if the truth emerged, he would be exposed to civil or criminal liability.
"The accused used his position as Prime Minister and Finance Minister to direct the removal of material information as specified in the charge against him," he said.
Sri Ram said the totality of evidence will lead to the "irresistible conclusion" that not only was the crime committed, but it was the accused who did it.
He, however, also noted that the court may in the course of the trial hear from witnesses who may display an obvious bias in favour of the accused, but pointed out that their evidence is necessary for the unfolding o the prosecution's case.
Najib, 66, is accused of ordering the 1MDB audit report to be tampered with before it was presented to the PAC in 2016.
He is charged with using his office or position for gratification, an offence under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009.
He faces up to 20-years jail and a fine if convicted.
Arul Kanda, 43, is charged with abetting Najib and faces the same penalties if convicted.