Najib allegedly knew RM42m transfers inside out

The former PM devised a scheme to facilitate the transfers from SRC into his accounts through 2 subsidiaries

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

THE prosecution in Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s (picture) SRC International Sdn Bhd trial has asserted that the former prime minister (PM) had full knowledge of the RM42 million fund movements in his accounts.

In an oral submission, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Datuk V Sithambaram reiterated that Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, Najib’s former private secretary Datuk Azlin Alias and former SRC International MD Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil had acted under directives from the accused on the money transfers — and not that he was duped by the group.

Sithambaram said although Najib had removed Nik Faisal from the CEO role in 2014 following financial misconduct complaints, it was odd that he maintained the latter as the company’s director, one of its account signatories and also his bank accounts’ mandate holder.

“Najib wanted Nik Faisal to control both accounts, so that he could facilitate the millions going in from SRC (International),” Sithambaram said at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday.

It was Azlin, who died in a helicopter crash in 2015, that initially proposed Nik Faisal to be Najib’s accounts’ mandate holder.

Sithambaram said Najib had devised a scheme to facilitate the money transfers from SRC International into his accounts through subsidiaries Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd.

These subsidiaries, purportedly SRC International’s corporate social responsibility partners, were believed to be the vehicles used to channel the funds.

The prosecution also rebutted the defence’s claims that Najib had not kept track of his accounts, that he relied on his aide Azlin and trusted Nik Faisal as the mandate holder.

The defence also claimed that Jho Low had hidden the bank statements from Najib.

“The bank statements were not kept away from the accused, but the accused kept away from the bank statements,” Sithambaram said, adding that Najib as the account holder had the access rights to the statements at any time, therefore, there was no so-called “scheme” to keep them away from him.

Sithambaram said Jho Low bankrolled Najib’s accounts.

As it is, Jho Low and Nik Faisal had left the country.

Sithambaram said the claim that Najib never looked at his bank statements for five years is “fascinating”.

The prosecutor also argued that Najib knew the balance of his accounts, given the occasion where the accused had RM27 million and RM5 million coming into the accounts in advance, but were returned.

He raised questions on how Najib would have known the exact sum to return if he did not know the balance. Sithambaram also touched on Najib’s signature forgery claims, saying the accused had admitted signing the documents when giving statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) without qualifying his statements.

In the trial, the defence raised issues of the forgery and wanted to call a handwriting expert to verify Najib’s signature.

Sithambaram said nothing was done to that effect to prove the claim, and the burden of proof fell on the defence who brought up the issue, especially after Najib had confirmed the signatures during the investigation stage.

“All these facts show that there was actual knowledge,” Sithambaram said.

The prosecution began their closing submission yesterday after the defence concluded theirs.

The defence maintained that Najib genuinely believed that the money he spent was from Arab donations that came over a few years.

Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh said a criminal breach of trust (CBT) requires the perpetrator to have actual knowledge of the source of the money.

He said Najib was convinced the funds were Arab donations based on purported letters from Prince Abdulaziz Al Saud on the royal contributions, which were produced by Jho Low.

He added that the letters were shown to authorities, including Bank Negara Malaysia, and there was no denial recorded when the MACC met three Arab princes in Saudi Arabia in 2015 to authenticate the letters.

Harvinderjit, however, clarified that he was not saying that the Arab donations were authentic, but that Najib’s belief was supported given Jho Low’s influence.

The letters were produced by the fugitive businessman, and the investigating parties had not found anything wrong with them.

He said the defence did not need to prove the authenticity of the letters per se, but their existence at the material time.

Najib has been charged on three counts of CBT, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of position to the SRC International funds totalling RM42 million.

The former PM is facing a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and fine for the crimes, upon conviction.