1MDB director says no real danger of bias for judge to preside in Rosmah’s jewellery case

KUALA LUMPUR (July 4): 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has said there is no real danger of bias for High Court judge Adlin Abdul Majid to continue to preside in the firm and its four subsidiaries’ US$350 million (RM1.6 billion) claim against Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in a lawsuit against her purported possession of luxury items bought using 1MDB funds.

Its director, Datuk Johan Mahmood Merican, who is also the Treasury secretary-general, in his affidavit-in-reply dated July 4 to Rosmah’s application to recuse Adlin, said there is no conflict of interest for Adlin to preside in the suit despite her previous employment with law firm Lee Hishammuddin Allen and Gledhill (LHAG), as she was never involved in advising 1MDB.

Johan, in objecting to Rosmah’s application, further said in the affirmed legal document that Adlin had previously recused herself in an earlier suit filed by 1MDB against Rosmah’s husband, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, because at that time, the former LHAG partners namely Datuk DP Naban and Rosli Dahlan were co-counsels (for 1MDB).

However, Johan added that this suit filed against Rosmah was done by Messrs Lim Chee Wee and Partners and did not involve Naban or Rosli as counsels.

“Adlin herself had acknowledged during case management in this case that she had no personal involvement in advising and/or acting for the 1MDB when she was a partner in LHAG,” Johan said in the legal document sighted by The Edge.

“Even the (previous) co-counsels Naban and Rosli had informed at that hearing of the earlier 1MDB suit in 2021, that Adlin had never been involved with 1MDB while at LHAG.”

Johan was referring to the transcripts of the case management in Rosmah’s case and another case involving 1MDB for which Adlin had recused herself earlier in 2021.

Following this, Johan said Rosmah’s right to a fair trial would not be prejudiced.

“Adlin does not have a pecuniary and proprietary interest in the subject matter of this present suit (against Rosmah), nor did she have any personal involvement with 1MDB during her tenure at LHAG,” the 1MDB director added.

At LHAG as stated in the affidavit, the case was handled by the firm’s litigation department while Adlin was with its corporate department.

Following that, Johan is seeking that Rosmah’s application to recuse Adlin be dismissed with costs.

Rosmah claims ‘real danger of bias’ if Adlin presides

Last month, Rosmah filed an application to recuse Adlin on the grounds that she had previously worked at LHAG which had acted for 1MDB and SRC International Sdn Bhd before ascending to become a judicial commissioner (JC) and then a judge.

Rosmah filed the application on the grounds of Adlin’s previous employment at LHAG, for which the firm had been involved in 1MDB’s asset recovery since 2018.

Rosmah further claimed there was a “real danger of bias”, should Adlin continue to preside over the matter, given that 1MDB was a client of Adlin’s previous employer, while Adlin was still a partner at LHAG.

Adlin was a partner with the firm from 2011 until 2021, after which she joined the judiciary.

She recused herself in 1MDB’s lawsuit against Najib and 14 others after Naban and Rosli appeared before her when she was a JC in 2021.

Naban and Rosli, who are now with Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership, were formerly partners at LHAG and had initiated the suits by 1MDB and SRC International in May 2021 against Najib.

1MDB, along with its four subsidiaries, have filed the suit against Rosmah along with Shabnam Naraindas Daswani (also known as Natasha Mirpuri) in May this year, whom the plaintiff claims purchased or procured some of the luxury goods for Rosmah.

They are asking Rosmah to return any of these items in her possession, and to pay a sum of about US$350 million or an amount to be assessed by the court. They also want Shabnam to pay them a sum to be determined by the court.

They are also seeking damages, or fair compensation to be determined by the court.

A case management of the case was done on Thursday before Adlin, where she then fixed Aug 26 to hear Rosmah’s application to recuse her.

1MDB was represented by Lee Shih and Nathalie Ker from Messrs Lim Chee Wee Partnership.

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