Najib’s ‘Arab donations’ story a desperate defence, says prosecutor

Sithambaram says the defence’s submissions are highly improbable and doubtful with numerous inconsistencies and contradictions

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

DATUK Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s (picture) claim that he had genuine belief over funds he received were Arab donations and not misappropriated money from SRC International Sdn Bhd is a desperate defence, the Court of Appeal heard.

In Najib’s SRC International appeal, ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said the defence’s submissions are highly improbable and doubtful with numerous inconsistencies and contradictions.

Sithambaram said it was “absolutely bizarre” for Najib to return the alleged contribution of RM2.6 billion (US$620 million) from the late King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud to Tanore Finance Corp in August 2013.

“This was a desperate attempt to bolster the defence’s case. Najib, in his evidence, testified that it was fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, who asked him to remit the money to Tanore,” he said.

Sithambaram said there was no letter or personal visit by Najib to the King to thank him for the purported contributions and the Cabinet also did not know about the donations.

The prosecutor also raised issues found in the defence’s own witnesses’ statements and how they contradicted Najib’s defence.

Sithambaram raised doubts on the purported meetings between Najib and Arab officials where the King promised financial support to Najib.

“The appellant merely stated that the King had promised support, but explained he was only later informed by Jho Low in the middle of 2010 that the monarch had agreed to provide financial support,” he said.

Sithamabram said there was a continuous failure on Najib’s part to verify the source of the funds while he continued to have “limitless expenses” despite the so-called Arab donations drying up.

Instead, he said Najib relied on Jho Low’s words who claimed the funds were Arab donations.

The prosecution also submitted that it could also mean the appellant had premeditated with Jho Low to receive funds other than the alleged Arab donations into his bank accounts.

Najib was found guilty of all the seven charges — one count of abuse of position, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and three counts of money laundering — relating to the misappropriation of RM42 million belonging to SRC International.

The High Court sentenced Najib to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million for abuse of power relating to the misappropriation of RM42 million. He was also sentenced to 10 years of jail each for three CBT offences and 10 years of jail each for three money laundering offences committed in the fund’s embezzlement.