Former Malaysian prime minister takes stand in corruption trial

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak will face cross-examination from prosecutors and is expected to be on the witness stand for around four days

His coalition was ousted at the polls past year after six decades in power, largely due to public anger over the scandal, and he has since been arrested and hit with dozens of charges linked to the looting of the investment vehicle. He has since been arrested and hit with dozens of charges linked to the looting of the investment vehicle.

Najib: It may seem a lot, but I know that the Saudi royal family is known for their generosity where they had donated a huge sum of money to various foundations in the U.S., including the Clinton Foundation and other countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Palestine as part of their foreign relations and diplomatic policy.

Standing in the witness stand in his crisp blue suit, Najib outlined 1MDB's formation and the role of financier Low Taek Jho, who has been identified by the United States as the mastermind behind the massive scandal.

Mr Wan Aizuddin: When Jho Low first raised the issue about donations, were you told how much it would be?

"I was made to understand that the letters were also forwarded to AmBank by Jho Low and the matter was also reported BNM (Bank Negara Malaysia) and Tan Sri Zeti (Akhtar Aziz) during the material time", he testified.

In 2011, he said, he received nearly US$100 million from Prince Faisal and the finance ministry in Riyadh, and in 2012, he obtained another US$270 million from Prince Faisal and Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partner.

Defence proceedings began with the former leader giving testimony under oath. Defence lawyers had earlier said it would take two days for him to read the entire statement, but as his testimony went on, it appeared it would take longer.

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Reading from his 243-page witness statement during examination-in-chief by lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohamad, Najib said he received the award in January 2010. The trial will resume today. 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. He faces up to 20 years in jail and fine for the offenses.

On the charge of abusing his position, Najib, as the prime minister and minister of finance, allegedly used his position to commit bribery involving RM42 million through his participation or involvement in the decision to provide government guarantees for loans from the Retirement Fund Incorporated to SRC International amounting to RM4 billion.

The former prime minister accused of misappropriating the government company's money said the Penang-born businessman made the suggestion to ready an account in anticipation of financial support from Saudi Arabia's monarch King Abdullah who meant to offer aid in the form of personal donations mid 2010.

The amount transferred to his account "was done without his knowledge or involvement" as the transactions "were being manipulated by third parties without his knowledge and approval", Shafee said.

The Malaysian High Court in November decided that the prosecutor had a strong case against Najib and called on the former prime minster to defend himself. The biggest opened in August, centring on allegations he illicitly obtained over $500 million from the fund.

Najib also believes that Low whom he says portrayed himself as someone who had influence in the Middle East, could assist in 1Malaysia Development Berhad's (1MDB) investments in the Middle East.

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