KUALA LUMPUR : Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s second corruption trial started Wednesday, with a prosecutor alleging he pilfered billions of dollars from the 1MDB state investment fund through an “elaborate charade” and then sought to cover his tracks.
Chief prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram said in his opening remarks that the prosecution would show how Najib took steps to channel 1MDB money into his accounts using a “circuitous route” to prevent detection of the source of the funds and then later pretending that the fund was donated by an Arab prince.
He told the High Court on Wednesday that prosecutors will also show that fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, was Najib’s “alter ego” and that the two acted as one in the scam. Low, 37, has been charged in both the U.S. and Malaysia for his alleged role as the mastermind in the 1MDB scandal.
“An elaborate charade was employed. It was acted out in four phases in which several characters played a part but it was the accused who played the pivotal role. His objective was to enrich himself,” Sri Ram said.
“The prosecution will prove that the accused, by his words and conduct, made it clear to 1MDB’s officers, its board and others that Jho Low was his alter ego. In truth, Jho Low was the accused’s mirror image.”
Sri Ram gave lengthy details of how money was raised and then siphoned through “sham” joint ventures, financing agreements, suspicious asset acquisitions and using intermediary companies and individuals linked to Low, including two Saudi princes he only mentioned as “Prince Faisal and Prince Turki,” without giving their full names or background.
After the scandal first broke in 2015, he said Najib and Low used fake letters and checks to pretend that the $681 million channeled into Najib’s bank accounts were largely a donation from an Arab prince. Najib also interfered in the investigations, Sri Ram said.
“The prosecution will rely on all these evidence to show that the accused had the requisite means when the offences with which he is charged were committed,” Sri Ram added.