Najib Testifies to Defend Against 1MDB Corruption Charges

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Najib Testifies to Defend Against 1MDB Corruption Charges(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s former leader Najib Razak started his testimony to defend against allegations involving 42 million ringgit ($10 million) of bribes in a case involving a former unit of troubled state fund 1MDB.He read out his statement slowly in a packed courtroom in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. In his testimony, he maintained that he acted in the best interests of the country and sought to show that he consulted the cabinet, 1MDB executives and his advisers at every step of the relevant transactions.The ex-prime minister is giving a sworn statement and will undergo questioning in court after the judge ruled last month the prosecution had made a successful case against him. Najib is accused of receiving the bribes in exchange for approving a state guarantee on a loan.Earlier, his lawyer argued that Najib was unaware and uninvolved in the fund transfers. He was led to believe fugitive financier Jho Low was a close associate of the royal family of Saudi Arabia and the funds were donations from King Abdullah, the lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said.Speaking MalayNajib insisted on speaking Malay in the testimony despite the trial having been conducted in English so far, saying he couldn’t be heard speaking in any other language given his position. He remains a sitting member of Malaysia’s parliament.While he had the option of refusing to be examined or to remain silent, his lawyer said Najib looked forward to telling “the real story” of what happened in the former 1MDB unit known as SRC International Sdn. Over the course of the hearing, his lawyers have sought to argue that he had been misled by others, such as Jho Low.Since the hearing started in April, prosecutors have called dozens of witnesses, including a central bank official and a former cabinet minister, to argue Najib engaged in a “planned, premeditated criminal breach of trust case” that ran over many years.The SRC trial is only the first of at least three ongoing 1MDB trials involving Najib. He faces a total of 42 corruption and money-laundering charges, including those linked to billion-dollar acquisitions and bond sales by the scandal-ridden fund.(Updates with Najib’s testimony throughout.)To contact the reporters on this story: Anisah Shukry in Kuala Lumpur at ashukry2@bloomberg.net;Hadi Azmi in Kuala Lumpur at klnews@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Yudith Ho at yho35@bloomberg.net, Ruth Pollard, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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