Najib’s lawyer says US action blocks proof of a hidden conspiracy

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer for Najib Razak has described as “not acceptable” the rationale given by the US Justice Department for withholding evidence sought by Najib for his 1MDB trial. He said the US action denied his client justice and a fair trial.

Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told FMT that although the Justice Department (DoJ) has said it has no intention to deny Najib from accessing the evidence, nor that it was in cahoots with Goldman Sachs, this did not change the fact that Najib was being denied access to evidence vital to his current defence.

The Justice Department was recently reported as saying that the request for the evidence, and timing of its disclosure, would be prejudicial to a US government motion to intervene in a civil suit brought by Najib against international bankers Goldman Sachs and its former executive Tim Leissner.

Lawyers for another former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng have accused the US government of working with the company to prevent evidence relating to the scandal from being given to Najib.

They said the evidence could include names of people who had siphoned funds from 1MDB and also the names of their beneficiaries. The Justice Department has denied these allegations.

Shafee said the claim of sub judice ignored the fact that the lack of access to the evidence was unfair to Najib in his trial.

He added Najib’s defence is that he was unaware that the money he received as a Saudi donation may have come from a complicated rerouting and layering of 1MDB funds by Jho Lho in conspiracy with corrupt 1MDB officials, its bankers, and financial advisers.

“This is why that evidence is crucial to prove this conspiracy behind Najib’s back .You cannot ignore the fact that without the evidence, Najib will not get a fair trial. To us, this appears to be a conscious and deliberate decision just to deprive Najib of a good defence.”

He also said it was not clear how providing Najib the names of those who received bribes from Leissner and Goldman Sachs would prejudice Goldman Sachs and Leissner’s guilty plea which is now pending only for sentencing.

Shafee said the DoJ must know that Najib’s defence team in Malaysia needs the evidence now as it affects the credibility of prosecution witnesses who are testifying, if they had received bribes from Leissner and Goldman Sachs.

He said many unanswered questions still remained on reports that former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s family members received 1MDB-linked money from accounts linked to Jho Low.

“And what is the Malaysian government doing about this? Isn’t it interested in finding out who received 1MDB money from Goldman Sachs, Leissner, Jow Low?,” he said, in reference to Low Taek Jho, the alleged mastermind of the 1MDB scandal.

Subang MP Wong Chen of PKR recently said that every defendant, including Najib, should have access to evidence that could help him.“In high-profile cases like the 1MDB corruption trial, justice must be seen to be done in a truthful and transparent manner,” he said in commenting on Ng’s lawyers’ claim.

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