KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 25): The decision by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to redirect part of government funds worth RM6.64 billion to repay 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) borrowings was made "to save the country", said his lead attorney.

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah confirmed in court today that his client had used part of the monies to repay 1MDB debt including the US$1.2 billion borrowed from International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC).

Najib and former Treasury sec-gen Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah are jointly facing six CBT charges under section 409 of the Penal Code for misappropriating the RM6.636 billion worth of government funds. The two pleaded not guilty for all charges.

"The first two charges [totalling RM1.855 billion] are wholly unfounded because the decision undertaken by him and Dr Mohd Irwan was for the good of the nation and the good of the public.

"The decision was made for the good of the public, to prevent a trigger of default that would be detrimental on the Malaysian economy," he said.

Shafee added that monies involved in four of the charges — totalling RM4.781 billion — were "initially allocated for a purpose, but on a priority [was] being revised in the face of urgency and dire state on the purposes on the settlement [between 1MDB and] IPIC".

"It was made in the full interest of the public," said Shafee. "There is no personal benefit. Not a cent was benefitted by the client (Najib Razak)," he added.

Shafee was contesting deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram's request for Sessions Court Judge Azman Ahmad to post bail of RM3 million each for Najib and Mohd Irwan as the "trustees of the highest order" for the misappropriated funds.

Gopal added that the duo has indeed benefitted by receiving emoluments when retaining their respective positions in the government as they sought to resolve the 1MDB issues.

Shafee asked Azman to allow the RM4.5 million bail posted by Najib for his other 32 charges earlier to also be applicable for this case.

Datuk K Kumaraendran, who is the lead attorney for Mohd Irwan, requested for the bail amount to be lowered to RM500,000.

Both defense attorneys argued that bail amount quantum should not be a gauge on the seriousness of the cases involved, and that bail is only meant to ensure the accused attend court — whereas their clients pose no flight risk.

Azman settled with RM1 million bail each for the duo and for Mohd Irwan to surrender his international and diplomatic passports.

The bail is to be paid in half today, with the balance within 10 days. The duo is also instructed not to communicate with any potential witnesses in the case.

Including the six fresh charges for Mohd Irwan and Najib, the latter now carries 38 charges involving sum of around RM9.5 billion.

Separately, Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) former director general Datuk Hasanah Ab Hamid was granted RM500,000 bail after pleading not guilty for one CBT charge involving US$12.1 million of government funds.

The charge was also read by DPP Gopal, in front of Justice Azman.

Gopal had earlier requested bail of RM1 million. Hasanah's lead defense attorney Datuk Shaharudin Ali requested bail of RM300,000 on grounds of her previous record in serving the government and taking into consideration the freezing of her personal accounts and pension funds by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The mentions for the two separate cases have been set by Justice Azman on Nov 29. — theedgemarkets.com

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