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1MDB audit tampering trial: High Court sets June 24 to hear submissions on prosecution's amendment of charges

KUALA LUMPUR (June 17): The High Court has set June 24 to hear the submissions of both parties in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit tampering trial following the prosecution's application to amend the charges levelled against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and former 1MDB president and CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

During the proceedings today, lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram told the court that the prosecution is amending a portion of the charge sheet which stated "before the audit report was finalised and tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)" to "after the audit report was re-finalised and tabled to the PAC".

Najib's counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah objected to the amendments made by the prosecution and pointed out that the prosecution yesterday had said there was simply a "typographical error only relating to one word", although the amended document received by the defence today showed otherwise.

"The thrust of my cross-examinations thus far with Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and Tan Sri Ali Hamsa was that there is never anything wrong with requesting to amend an audit report that has not been finalised," said the lawyer.

Meanwhile, Sri Ram said the prosecution had initially thought it could just amend one word in the charge, although the prosecution later realised that the sentence had to be amended to make it clearer.

He added that the offence still stands and that the defence should "focus on what the offence is".

"Based on the evidence from Tan Sri Ambrin, Nor Salwani and Saadatul Nafisah, our case has always been the same. As far as we are concerned, there is no significant change to the charge," Sri Ram told the court.

However, he told the court that the prosecution does not have any objection against arguing the matter next Wednesday.

Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said he would be more than happy to give time to the defence and went on to vacate the trial dates for today and tomorrow.

Sri Ram asked for the defence to pass their submissions to the prosecution not later than next Monday.

"Monday? There goes your weekend," said the judge to the defence.

"I'll fix June 24th for submissions. I will also endeavour to deliver my decision on the same day," added Zaini.

The court also fixed further dates for the trial, namely Oct 12-16 and Dec 7-10; however, the October dates will depend on Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah's agreement to vacate the dates for the 1MDB-Tanore trial.

Najib is charged with abusing his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report to avoid any action being taken against him while Arul is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report.

Both of them were charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which provides a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

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