Court calls SRC misconduct a ‘national embarrassment’

The three-man bench unanimously dismisses Najib’s appeal to rescind his conviction and sentencing of a 12-year jail term and a fine of RM210m

by ASILA JALIL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak has been found guilty again for all seven charges against him in relation to the misappropriation of funds in SRC International Sdn Bhd amounting to RM42 million.

The three-man bench at the Court of Appeal chaired by Justice Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil yesterday unanimously dismissed Najib’s appeal to rescind his conviction and sentencing of a 12-year jail term and a fine of RM210 million for his role in the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd)-linked scandal.

All the seven charges, according to the court, have been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Abdul Karim described Najib’s action with regards to the flow of funds from SRC into his personal account as a “national embarrassment” and not for national interest, as contended by the defence.

He said Najib was actively involved in ensuring the loans amounting to RM4 billion from Retirement Fund Inc were disbursed to SRC.

“This is not something that can be said to have been done in the national interest. There is no national interest here, just national embarrassment,” he said during the delivery of the verdict at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya yesterday.

“In any event, it would be rather absurd for the government to guarantee a loan to a government-linked corporate body knowing well that the corporate body does not have the ability to repay the loan or service the interest.

“After the funds had been disbursed, the appellant became indifferent to the whereabouts of the funds and did not inquire from SRC as to what happened to the funds, not how it was utilised for that purpose,” Abdul Karim said.

“He even instructed the second finance minister then to keep off SRC. This conduct of the appellant can be indicative of only one thing and that is, once the funds had been secured by SRC, over which the appellant had overarching control, he was free to utilise them for his personal benefit.”

Najib and his defence team led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah attended the session via Zoom after one of the the members in the team tested positive for Covid-19.

The court also concurred with the trial judge who concluded that Najib was a shadow director of SRC, and had total control and dominion over all of SRC’s activities.

The money trail of the RM42 million also showed that the sum originated from SRC’s AmIslamic Bank account and flowed through intermediary companies, namely Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, before deposited into Najib’s account.

“Evidence has established that the flow of these funds was to layer the transaction and disguise the flow of funds such that it was made more difficult to track the fund’s nexus to SRC and avoid detection by the authorities,” Abdul Karim said.

He added that Najib was aware of the money deposited into his personal bank account and there was evidence of misappropriation where Najib had used the money for himself.

On the defence made by Najib claiming that the funds were deposited as donation from the Saudi Arabia royal family, Abdul Karim said the defence is untenable as evidence clearly showed the money originated from SRC and ended in Najib’s personal bank accounts.

On July 28, 2020, Najib was found guilty of all seven charges relating to the misappropriation of SRC funds.

He was slapped with one count of abuse of position, three counts of criminal breach of trust and three counts of money laundering in relation to the SRC funds.

Following the verdict, lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said four judges have found Najib guilty, saying that the evidence and investigation against the former PM had nothing but facts.

“There is no politics inside there. These are facts. Hard, cold facts and we have to interpret these facts reasonably, which we did and presented it to the court,” Sithambaram said in a press conference.

Separately, Najib maintained he had no clue of the RM42 million from SRC that was transferred into his personal bank account.

“I would like to reiterate and say once again that I did not know, nor did I ask for it, nor did I direct anyone for the RM42 million to be transferred to my account,” he said.

Muhammad Shafee said the defence team is confident that its appeal to the Federal Court will overturn the judgment. He also questioned the remarks made by the Court of Appeal that stated Najib’s case as a national embarrassment.

“I think that was unnecessary and can cause a serious element of perception on (Datuk Seri) Najib considering that the entire conviction and sentence has been stated.

“The statement is not a defamation but the effect is like a defamation,” he said.

To this, Najib said there are other “scandalous issues” that could have been labelled as a national embarrassment such as the scandal surrounding the foreign-exchange (forex) issue which implicated former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In 2019, Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong told the Dewan Rakyat that the police report was withdrawn concurrent with the lack of documentary evidence to prove the forex allegation.