Former Malaysian PM pleads not guilty in 1MDB-linked graft case

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], Dec 3 (ANI): Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday pleaded not guilty in cases related to a multi-billion dollar scandal during his much-awaited testification before the High Court here, reported Al Jazeera.

On December 12 last year, Razak was charged for tampering with the 1MDB strategic development company's final audit report, in addition to corruption charges that Najib pleaded not guilty to.

Razak has been accused of taking 42 million ringgit (USD10m) from SRC International, a unit of 1MDB.

Najib entered the witness box to read out his 243-page statement. Najib defended the creation of 1MDB and sought to portray fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Taek Low as its driving force, noting his supposed connections with the Saudi royal family.

Speaking to media, lead defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said, "Najib is not part of the conspiracy," Shafee told journalists after the court broke for lunch. "Najib is a victim as much as the other victims of 1MDB and SRC."

Najib was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the alleged tampering with the 1MDB audit report and was released on bail.

Najib was charged along with Arul Kanda Kandasamy, the former president and chief executive of 1MDB.

In July 2018, Najib was charged with corruption-related offences, including three counts of criminal breach of trust, over his alleged involvement in the 1MBD corruption scandal. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The United States Department of Justice had reported that around USD 4.5 billion was embezzled from the 1MDB funds by high-ranking Malaysian officials.

Around 40 people gathered outside the court on Tuesday to show their support to the former minister who remains an opposition member of parliament. (ANI)