After hard-fought trial, Najib’s fate in judge’s hands


AFTER a hard fight in Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s (picture) SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, it is now for the court to deliver the verdict on July 28.

After 96 days of hearing in 14 months, closing submissions were completed last week before Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

“Both the defence and prosecution have put in extensive submissions of over 2,000 pages. Whether the prosecution has proven the matter beyond a reasonable doubt or not, I intend to deliver my decision on July 28 at 10am,” Judge Mohd Nazlan said at the Kuala Lumpur High Court last Friday.

Former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas brought the case to the court in July 2018, two months after the fall of Najib’s then-ruling coalition party in the 14th General Election.

Najib pleaded not guilty to seven charges; three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of position to the SRC International funds totalling RM42 million allegedly entered his accounts.

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

History was made when the country’s former prime minister (PM) was dragged to a criminal court for corruption allegations.

“If this is the price I have to pay for 42 years of service to the people and country, I accept,” Najib said on the day he was charged.

Najib said the trial would be an opportunity for him to clear his name.

For that, he hired top lawyer Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to represent him.

However, even a legal eagle found it challenging to defend a former PM in the graft case.

“By virtue of the positions Najib was in, there are a lot of prejudices that could be drawn against him.

“Among the questions posed is that as a man of knowledge and finance, how could he not be aware of the full circumstances of money coming into his accounts,” Muhammad Shafee said.

Equally challenging was for the prosecution to prove that Najib had committed the crime.

It seemed quite daunting at times to cross-examine an ex-PM, admitted deputy public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram who has 42 years of experience.

Regardless, he said Najib had been cooperative and “did not pull rank” as a witness.

The prosecution presented evidence that Najib knew of the RM42 million movements in his accounts, but the defence claimed that he was a victim of a scam devised by people around him.

Sithambaram said fugitive 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.

He 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 units, purportedly SRC International’s corporate social responsibility partners, were allegedly the vehicles used to channel the funds.

In the witness dock, Najib claimed ignorance and defended that he is not liable for the mess of SRC International and mismanagement of the RM4 billion loans provided by Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).

Najib was SRC International advisor emeritus and finance minister (FM) at the time.

The defence also pointed fingers at “a bunch of rogue bankers” who handled Najib’s accounts.

They also maintained that Najib genuinely believed that the money he spent was from Arab donations.

Since the trial began on April 3 last year, the High Court has heard from 57 prosecution witnesses followed by 19 witnesses during the defence stage, which ran for 33 days from Dec 3.

Former Second FM Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah, former KWAP CEO Datuk Azian Mohd Noh, former AG Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad were among top government officials who had taken the witness stand.

SRC International, a 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 coal, and oil and gas.

Both the prosecution and defence have expressed confidence.

Sithambaram said the prosecution has proven their case against Najib on all seven charges whereas Muhammad Shafee said the defence not only rebutted the prosecution case but had raised more reasonable doubts.

“Jho Low bankrolled Najib’s accounts,” Sithambaram said in his closing submissions.

“It is like tossing a coin now… anything can happen,” Muhammad Shafee said after concluding his submissions.