Ex-1MDB CEO’s witness statement has hearsay elements, says Najib’s lawyer

(FMT) – The defence in Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial today objected to the prosecution’s attempt to tender former company CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman’s witness statement to the High Court.

Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that certain paragraphs in the witness statement contained hearsay elements and, therefore, they should not be allowed.

Hazem was scheduled to testify today as a witness after his successor, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, completed his 40-day testimony on Thursday.

Citing an example, Shafee said Hazem made allegations that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, told him that 1MDB was set up to assist Umno in business through strategic investments.

“This is an example of hearsay when Jho Low is not called to testify and the authenticity of Hazem’s statement cannot be tested,” he said.

The defence added that the paragraphs containing hearsay elements should be removed.

In response, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said the defence made the same objection when Shahrol came to court to testify on Sept 23 last year.

“Our lead prosecution counsel Gopal Sri Ram also submitted on that, before Shahrol took the witness stand and Yang Arif (Sequerah) had said the court would decide the admissibility at the close of the prosecution’s case.

“For the prosecution, we say Hazem’s testimony is not hearsay as we will adduce evidence later in the trial to support it.”

He said Hazem’s evidence was connected to the transactions in Najib’s four abuse of power charges.

Sequerah said the court would decide on Tuesday when the trial resumed.

Najib is facing 25 charges for abuse of power and money laundering over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.