KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has appeared for the fifth batch of charges against him, this time he pleaded not guilty at the Sessions court here to charges of tampering with a final audit report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
The former prime minister, who appeared in court in a dark blue suit, was granted a RM500,000 (S$164,000) bail in one surety.
However, this time, the court did not allow bail to be posted in instalments.
According to the charge sheet, Najib had used his position as the then prime minister to gain protection from any action, whether disciplinary, civil or criminal, with regards to 1MDB by ordering the final audit report on 1MDB to be tampered with before it was finalised and presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
He allegedly committed the offence at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya between Feb 22 and Feb 26, 2016.
The charge under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 carries a maximum 20 years imprisonment and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
Former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who was appointed by the Attorney General's Chambers to lead the prosecution, offered bail at RM1mil in one surety.
This was objected to by Najib's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah who said the amount was excessive considering former 1MDB group president and CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, who was charged with abetting Najib on the same offence at a separate court, was offered bail at RM500,000 by the same prosecution team.
Muhammad Shafee contended that both Najib and Arul Kanda were charged with different sections under the MACC Act but both would face the same punishment, upon conviction.
"My client has already paid RM5.5mil for his previous cases.
"I'm making a suggestion, should you accede to my request for my client's bail to be hinged on the bail of the previous cases," Muhammad Shafee said.
Sri Ram replied that Najib was the principal offender and Arul Kanda was the abettor.
"Therefore, a principal offender is treated differently from the abettor," he said.
Sri Ram said although Najib has been charged repeatedly, it should not be the privilege in granting bail.
"There is no provision in law that allows or empowers the court to grant bail on the extension of bail from another case.
"Each of these are separate cases. I respectfully request the court not to accede to the defence and place the accused on no bail," he said.
Judge Azura Alwi fixed bail at RM500,000 in one surety.
Muhammad Shafee asked for the bail to be posted in the denomination of RM200,000, RM200,000 and RM100,000 installments but it was declined by the court.
"No, by today," Judge Azura said.
The case is set for mention on Jan 4, next year. Najib managed to raise the bail.