First former PM to be sentenced to jail
by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by ARIF KARTONO
FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) has been sentenced to 12 years of jail and fined RM210 million for abuse of power involving RM42 million funds misappropriated from SRC International Sdn Bhd.
Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali also sentenced Najib to 10 years of jail each for the three criminal breach of trust (CBT) offences and 10 years of jail each for the three money-laundering offences committed in the fund’s embezzlement.
Mohd Nazlan ruled that Najib will get an additional five years’ imprisonment if he fails to pay the RM210 million fine, which equals to five times the sum or value of the gratification being the subject matter of the offence.
The judge ordered the jail sentences to be served concurrently and granted Najib a delay in serving his sentence yesterday.
Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh appealed for a lenient sentence, which was rebutted by the prosecution and later dismissed by the judge. Mohd Nazlan, however, allowed a stay of execution of the jail sentences and fine pending an appeal.
He also increased the bail by RM1 million to be paid today with two sureties, while Najib being the convict now was ordered to report to the police on the 1st and 15th day of every month.
Proceedings at the KL court complex started at 10am with Mohd Nazlan reading out the judgement for two hours, followed by the verdict, mitigation and stay of execution, which all ended at 7.40pm.
Mohd Nazlan delivered his verdict that Najib was found guilty of all the seven charges in the RM42 million misappropriation of SRC funds, ending over one year of court proceedings at the High Court.
Najib had been slapped with one count of abuse of position, three counts of CBT and three counts of money laundering of RM42 million belonging to SRC, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Najib made history as the first former PM in Malaysia to be convicted of graft crimes.
The former Umno president, who turned 67 last week, has four other trials linked to 1MDB and 35 criminal charges to answer in court.
After the verdict, which was delivered in the morning, Najib’s lawyers sought and were allowed to plead for mitigation before sentencing, which the judge allowed if it was made during yesterday’s sitting.
In pleading for mitigation of sentence from the dock, Najib said he did not demand the RM42 million, nor he planned or offered anything for the money.
He also listed his achievements during his time as PM. During that time, he said the KL stock market had its longest bull run, that he left Permodalan Nasional Bhd, Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Petroliam Nasional Bhd with record achievements, as well as repealing the Internal Security Act.
“I proposed a more transparent political donation system. That proposal, however, did not see the light of the day as the Opposition at the time did not agree.”
In his ruling, Judge Mohd Nazlan dismantled every argument made by the defence including the contention about RM4 billion loans provided by the Retirement Func Inc to SRC, Arab donations, the role of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low and utilisation of the proceeds purportedly for corporate social responsibilities.
On the RM4 billion financing, he said it must be shown that SRC had no track record to service the loan.
Mohd Nazlan said no evidence showed that Najib had initiated such discussions of government-to-government over the Arab donations.
“All roads lead to Rome. In this case, it leads to Riyadh,” he added.
He also said evidence showed that Jho Low had been involved in the management of Najib’s account together with Najib’s former private secretary Datuk Azlin Alias and former SRC CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.
“Nik Faisal and Jho Low sat comfortably with the accused. This is beyond dispute,” the judge said.
About 1,000 observers, clad in blue and red T-shirts with “Bossku” printed text, swarmed the main gate of the court to show solidarity for Najib, but they were denied access into the grounds.
More than 10 buses parked nearby the court, including at Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan, believed to be carrying supporters from across the country.
Social media users reacted with alarm to pictures of the mass gathering by Najib’s supporters, raising fears of Covid-19 infection due to the lack of social distancing seen among the crowd.
Najib’s sons Mohd Nizar and Norashman, as well as his stepson Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, were present at the court yesterday.
Umno leaders, including president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who had a trial proceeding himself yesterday, deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki were also present to support Najib.