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Friday, January 31, 2020

1MDB-linked items - prosecution objects to inspection bid by Najib



NAJIB 1MDB TRIAL | The prosecution has objected to applications by Najib Abdul Razak and two others to inspect items seized during the government's 1MDB investigation, citing security issues as well as not setting a precedent for other money-laundering accused to seek similar inspections.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Fatnin Yusof submitted before the High Court in Kuala Lumpur late this morning that the act of allowing such an inspection raises the issue of trying to ensure security in bringing in the seized items from a Bank Negara vault to be inspected by Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their daughter Nooryana Najwa.
“There is the issue of security where the problem arises as the items are kept in a vault at Bank Negara. To conduct the inspection at Bank Negara is impossible due to the need to maintain security at the vault.
“The issue of the vault is one thing, but the matter of taking out the items also raises security concerns with the risk of damage to the value of the items during the numerous processes involved (in taking the items out to be inspected by (former prime minister) Najib, Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa, and then returned (to the vault),” Fatnin argued.

She added that further security and logistical issues would arise from trying to ensure the safety of a separate area where Najib, Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa could inspect the items.
The trio is seeking to inspect the seized items in order to help their legal teams prepare their defence against related forfeiture suits by the MACC.
Fatnin also informed the court today that there was no specific provision under the law to allow an accused in a money-laundering case to inspect the seized items.
“We, the respondents, object to these (inspection) applications (by Najib, Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa) because there is no specific provision (for the applications).
“We do not wish to open the floodgates for accused in other Amla (Anti-Money Laundering Act) cases (to seek inspection of items seized during a money-laundering investigation).
“The court needs to exercise caution in deciding on this matter as this is a test case. We do not wish for it to set a precedent for other Amla cases. Previously, there was no other case in (the court) allowing physical inspection of seized items,” Fatnin submitted.
She also informed judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan that just like previous money laundering cases, the authorities could give to the accused a list and photographs of the seized items to help them prepare for their defence.
Justice Zaini then told the prosecution that many items, including 50 watches among others, were seized from three locations, and the applicants should be given the right to prepare for their defence the best they can by inspecting the items.
Nooryana Najwa Najib
The judge said that Najib, Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa’s line of defence was that, at the very least, some of the items were gifts given to them and the court may need to give them every available opportunity to prepare for their defence.
“On security, it is within your (the prosecution's) control. You can state when the inspection is to be done on a certain day and certain room where only the applicants (Najib, Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa) are in that room (for example), for four hours. You (the prosecution) can station every personnel there to ensure security.
"It is within your control. It is not allowing them to bring them (the seized items) home (after inspection). It is just to allow them to inspect. In the end, it is up to me whether to believe (in Najib, Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa’s defence) or not,” Justice Zaini said.
In countering Fatnin’s submission, Najib’s counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said security could still be maintained by the police and Bank Negara because there was a special hall in the central bank called "Sasana Kijang" where the inspection could be done safely.
Shafee argued that outsiders were allowed to inspect and value the items following their seizure in 2018 and no problems emerged from there. Therefore,  the question of security in the inspection of the items by his client should not arise.
He submitted that Article 121 of the Federal Constitution, which lays out the jurisdiction and powers of the courts in Malaysia, empowers the High Court to allow the inspection in order to ensure a fair trial for the defence being able to prepare the best defence.
Shafee also informed the court that he previously handled a similar money- laundering case in Ipoh, where the accused was allowed to inspect items seized.
He said the inspection was allowed at Bank Negara whereby seized gold items were taken out for the accused to inspect and no issue arose as security was maintained.
Justice Zaini set Monday next week (Feb 3) to deliver his decision on whether to allow Najib, Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa to inspect the seized items.
Counsel Iskandar Shah Ibrahim also appeared for Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa in today’s matter.
On Nov 15 last year, the High Court fixed today to hear the notices of motion by Najib, Rosmah and Nooryana Najwa to inspect and obtain particulars on items and properties seized by the MACC.
The seized items and properties are in connection with the 1MDB case.
On Oct 14 last year, the prosecution agreed to provide pictures of the 315 bags of various luxury items and cash in various currencies that were seized by the MACC from Najib and his family.
On July 18 last year, Najib, 66, filed a notice of motion to inspect and obtain particulars on the said assets.
In the notice of motion, Najib is seeking for the respondent to provide or supply colour pictures of all the items. as well as the detailed description of the labels, brands, gift cards, packages and boxes that were seized on May 17 last year.
A luxury Birkin handbag similar the type seized by the authorities
The former prime minister filed the application because parts of the boxes, handbags and containers that were seized had been removed from their original wrappings and this had confused their identification process.
Rosmah, 68, and Nooryana Najwa, 31, meanwhile, are seeking permission to physically inspect the items.
Among the items mentioned in both notices are 315 handbags of various brands, 14 watches, 27 pairs of shoes of various brands as well as cash in various currencies, including RM537,000, 2,700 in pound sterling, RM187,750 in old ringgit, 2,870,000 Sri Lanka rupees and another 320,500 in pound sterling notes.
On May 30 last year, the High Court allowed the prosecution to gazette a notice to alert any third-party with interests in the assets seized from the former prime minister, his family, 13 others and several companies.
The assets include hundreds of bags of various items, cash in various currencies, watches and 27 cars. - Mkini

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