Ex-Malaysian PM Najib tells trial he believed financier Jho LowWorld | 3 Dec 2019 1:01 pm
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has started his defense in his first corruption trial linked to the multibillion-dollar looting of the 1MDB state investment fund that contributed to his election loss last year.
Najib is defending himself against seven charges of abuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering relating to 42 million ringgit (US$10.1 million) that allegedly went into his bank accounts from SRC International, a former unit of the 1MDB fund.
The high court judge last month said Najib wielded "overarching authority and power'' and took actions for personal gains.
Najib on the stand today outlined 1MDB's formation and the role of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, who U.S. investigators say was the mastermind behind the massive scandal that is being probed in several countries.
Najib, clad in a blue suit, took the oath in both English and Malay before starting to read from his 243-page-long written testimony in Malay.
His testimony, in a question and answer format, began with how he set up 1MDB in 2009 and how the fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low, said to be at the center of the scandal, came to be associated with the fund.
"[Low] portrayed himself as someone influential in the Middle East countries who I believed was able to facilitate investments and partnerships between them," Najib said, speaking calmly and deliberately to a packed courtroom.
Low has been charged in Malaysia and the United States over the alleged theft from 1MDB. Low has denied any wrongdoing. His whereabouts are unknown.
The U.S. Department of Justice has said about US$4.5 billion siphoned from 1MDB was used by Low and his associates to buy a yacht, a private jet, as well as Picasso paintings, jewelry, and real estate.-AP/Reuters