Court to deliver verdict in Najib’s first 1MDB trial

A Malaysian court will hand down its verdict in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s first corruption trial today following a long-running case probing the former prime minister’s role in the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal. Najib and his inner circle are accused of plundering sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad in a fraud that stretched around the world. Stolen cash was used to buy high-end real estate, pricey art and fund a Hollywood blockbuster, while investment titan Goldman Sachs also became embroiled in the controversy. The Kuala Lumpur High Court is expected to deliver the verdict in the first of Najib’s 1MDB-link trials – which began in April last year – today. It centres on the transfer of 42 million ringgit ($9.9 million) from a former 1MDB unit, SRC International, into his bank accounts. The ex-leader, who is facing four charges of corruption and three of money-laundering in the case, denies wrongdoing and insists he was ignorant of the transactions. If Najib — currently free on bail — is convicted on Tuesday, he could be sentenced the same day. Each charge of corruption carries a maximum jail term of 20 years, and each money-laundering count is punishable by a term of up to 15 years. But the 67-year-old is likely to appeal, and may not be jailed straight away. If he is found guilty and the conviction is upheld, then he would also be barred from political office for several years. (NST Online)

Banks could lose capacity to provide RM79bil loans due to moratorium

Banks could see a reduction in their capacity to disburse new loans worth RM79bil over the six-month moratorium period from April to September. Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said over the moratorium period, total losses are expected to reach RM6.4bil. This is equivalent to the reduction in the banks’ capacity to disburse new loans worth RM79bil whether to the people or to borrowers, he said. Tengku Zafrul added that the country’s banking system is estimated to incur lose RM1.06 billion under the Malaysian Financial Reporting Standards (MFRS) 9 for every month the moratorium is extended. Other countries that have introduced a moratorium include Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy and the United States. (The Star Online)

New norm in workplace putting pressure on office rentals growth

Despite office rents generally remaining stable, the resizing measures taken by some companies due to Covid-19 pandemic are likely to result in downward pressure on rentals and occupancy rates in the short-term, said Nawawi Tie Leung Property Consultants. In its latest report, the consultancy firm expected the Business Continuity Plan measures such as remote working arrangement, split teams and de-densification requirements, to be the new norms in the workplace. While office space is still necessary for most organisations, the resizing measures taken by some companies and reduction in office demand are likely to result in downward pressure on rentals and occupancy rates in the short-term. “Given the current market conditions, companies’ wait-and-see attitude and desire to avoid capital expenditure, will be challenging for office landlords to fill up vacancies,” the consultant firm noted. (The Edge)

DBKL warn PPR residents over installation of iron grilles, barriers at corridors

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) will issue warning notices against Public Housing (PA) and People Housing Project (PPR) flat residents who install iron grilles and place barriers on the corridors of their houses. DBKL Corporate Planning Department director Khairul Azmir Ahmad said if the residents fail to comply with the notice, an integrated enforcement operation would be carried out to cut and confiscate the grilles or any structure that blocks the corridors. “DBKL views this matter seriously. Installing iron grilles or placing barriers (on the corridors) may cause trouble for police, DBKL enforcement as well as fire personnel to access the area in times of emergency,” he said. (Malay Mail)

New SOP for Hari Raya Haji

New standard operating procedure (SOP) will be enforced during Hari Raya Aidiladha, including limits on the number of people in a house as well as the cap on the number of animals for korban (sacrificial rites) at any one location. The new SOP is in light of the risk of Covid-19 infections re-emerging, said Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. He said for Hari Raya Aidiladha celebration, only up to 20 people would be allowed to be in a house at one particular time. Those who were still under home quarantine, were not allowed to receive guests or leave the house, including for balik kampung or for the Aidiladha prayers. For korban, he said the government had decided to limit the number of animals to a maximum of 10 at mosques, surau as well as other designated locations, adding the limit however is based on the size of the area. The number of people allowed during korban is 20 per animal. Ismail Sabri said feasts were not allowed at korban sites and only packed food could be distributed to those on duty. Police will be on the ground to monitor public compliance, he added. (The Star Online)