PUTRAJAYA – Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (picture) lost his appeal in the Court of Appeal today to reinstate a civil lawsuit against AmBank Islamic Bhd and two others over mismanagement of his bank accounts.
A three-member bench comprising Justices Datuk Yaacob Md Sam, Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail and Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim unanimously dismissed Najib’s appeal and ordered him to pay cost of RM40,000 to AmBank Islamic and AMMB Holdings Bhd and RM35,000 to former customer relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping, who are the respondents in the appeal.
Justice Yaacob, who delivered the court’s decision, said the criminal charges faced by Najib in the SRC International Sdn Bhd (SRC) case cannot be caused by the AmBank Islamic, AMMB Holdings Bhd and Yu.
“It is a matter of a sole or unfettered discretionary power of the Attorney-General, being the public prosecutor, to institute any criminal charges proceedings under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, the Penal Code and the Anti-Money Laundering Act,” he said.
He said the issues in Najib’s civil suit and in his SRC International criminal case were almost similar, if not identical.
Justice Yaacob said the court was of the view that Najib was seeking to proceed with his civil suit to undermine the criminal proceedings and findings by the High Court and Court of Appeal in the SRC International criminal case.
Yu was one of the prosecution witnesses in the trial where Najib was charged with seven counts of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International funds.
On July 28 last year, High Court judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali convicted and sentenced Najib to 12 years’ imprisonment and fined him RM210 million over the SRC International criminal case.
The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court decision on Dec 8 last year. Najib has filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence to the Federal Court.
Najib was also appealing against the decision of the High Court in July 2020 which struck out his suit against the bank and Yu, which he claimed, among others, had committed negligence when handling his bank accounts by disclosing them to the fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.
In the court’s decision which was delivered online, Justice Yaacob said the civil suit filed by Najib against the banks and Yu was not for the purpose of seeking damages, but just a “collateral attack” on what had already transpired and completed before the criminal court in his SRC International case.
Collateral attack means legal action to challenge a ruling in another case.
Justice Yaacob said he agreed with the respondents’ lawyer’s submission that the administration of justice would become chaotic if a declaration of innocence or relief from any criminal wrongdoing could be obtained from the civil court, which would be to intrude into the domain of the criminal court.
He said it cannot be right to have the same issues being adjudicated by both the civil court and the criminal court.
“It is to be noted that the appellant (Najib) has been found guilty of those criminal charges by the High Court and on appeal by the appellant, the findings and decision of High Court were upheld by the Court of Appeal,” he said adding that the court took judicial notice that Najib’s appeal to the Court of Appeal against his conviction and sentence was unanimously dismissed on Dec 8 last year.
Justice Yaacob said in the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the SRC International case, the court agreed with the findings of the High Court on the issue of Najib’s knowledge relating to the operation of his bank accounts.
Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah indicated to the court that he would bring the matter to the Federal Court.
Lawyer Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar represented Yu, while lawyers Yoong Sin Min and Benjamin John Dawson acted for the banks.