Najib’s defence completes case in SRC trial, written submissions in April

The former PM entered into the defence stage on Dec 3, 2019, and created history by becoming the 1st PM to take the witness stand in court

By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By RAZAK GHAZALI

THE defence of Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial concluded their case yesterday after 33 days of proceedings with 19 witnesses called to testify.

Najib entered into the defence stage on Dec 3 last year and created history by becoming the first former prime minister (PM) to take the witness stand at the court.

He was not acquitted on all seven charges linked to SRC International — three counts of criminal breach of trust, three charges of money laundering and one count of abuse of position — in relation to the SRC International funds totalling RM42 million.

The defence wanted to prove that the former Umno president was “not involved in any corrupt arrangements”.

Several key witnesses were called during the defence stage including former Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, former Minister of Islamic Affairs in the PM’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, former Treasury secretary general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, former Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and two ex-Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chiefs Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad and Latheefa Koya.

During the 11-month trial, which began on April 3, 2019, 807 exhibits and some 6,000 pages of proceeding notes were dsiplayed.

The prosecution had called 57 witnesses and tendered more than 750 exhibits including bank documents relating to Najib’s bank accounts, documents of cash tran- sactions, minutes of meetings and BlackBerry Messenger chats over Najib’s transactions, before completing the case on Aug 27, 2019.

After yesterday’s proceeding, Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali has fixed April 21 for both sides to submit written submissions.

He also set four days beginning May 12 for oral submissions.

Najib’s fate will then be known after the stage — either guilty or acquitted — in the allegations of misappropriating RM42 million funds belonged to SRC International.

If convicted, Najib is liable to a 20-year jail sentence and a minimum fine of RM5 million.

The RM42 million was part of RM4 billion Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) loan to SRC International in August 2011 and March 2012.

Yesterday, lead defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah examined the last two defence witnesses, namely Kamaruddin M Ripin, the MACC deputy director of strategic communications and international relations; and Regjit Singh, the MACC officer who recorded a statement from former SRC International CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil in October 2015.

Regjit told the court that he and his team had twice recorded statements from Nik Faisal in October 2015 at a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Muhammad Shafee also re-examined the 17th defence witness Dzulkifli who testified that it is not necessarily an offence when money is deposited into an account unless it was done with bad intent the person spent the money.

“The flow of funds is not necessarily an offence unless it was done knowingly and with mala fide (intention), but if he had spent the money, then it becomes an offence,” Dzulkifli said at the court yesterday.

In previous proceedings, Najib admitted to spending millions of ringgit that has been channelled into his bank accounts between 2014 and 2015 for various purposes including corporate social responsibility programmes parked under Umno or Barisan Nasional.

Dzulkifli also testified that there were proposals in 2015 to charge other individuals such as Nik Faisal and former SRC International director Datuk Suboh Md Yassin and two other directors under Section 409 of the Penal Code.

He, however, said Mohamed Apandi had asked the MACC to open a new investigation papers and now he has no knowledge about the progress.

He also denied a suggestion by deputy public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram that he was “protecting” the decision by Mohamed Apandi to clear Najib of any criminal wrongdoing involving the RM2.6 billion donation case and the RM42 million in SRC International funds.

The SRC International trial has touched on many aspects of the case including the role of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, in transactions of Najib’s bank accounts, the royal Arab donations and the RM4 billion expedited loan to SRC International by KWAP.

SRC International was supposed to venture into the supplies of coal, uranium, steel and aluminium to secure strategic state of the nation’s key resources, akin to Petroliam Nasional Bhd in oil and gas (O&G) sector.

The former unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd was incorporated on Jan 7, 2011, as an initiative to support the country’s agenda to ensure energy security and reduce reliance on O&G and coal.