Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Four

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Busy day for Najib with two other proceedings to attend.

The two matters are case management proceedings involving an RM27 million money-laundering trial and an RM6.6 billion CBT charge on which he was jointly indicted with former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

Chronology of Events:

8.45am: Forty of former premier Najib Abdul Razak’s supporters from his constituency of Pekan, Pahang arrive in the compound of the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex. They say they departed from Pahang at 5am today.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

9.05am: Najib arrives at the courts complex.

As soon as he emerges from the vehicle, his supporters – a majority of whom are women – begin praying for him.

Yusof Mat Isa

Najib, who is clad in a beige suit, joins in their prayers before leaving the lobby and heading towards the upper floor.

9.25am: Attorney-General Tommy Thomas enters Kuala Lumpur High Court Criminal 3 courtroom and takes a seat with other members of the prosecution team.

9.32am: Najib enters the courtroom and takes a seat in the public gallery. He begins reading a book and appears to look relaxed while waiting for proceedings to commence.

Also coming into the courtroom is the accused’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and the rest of the defence team, who take their seats at the front.

Earlier in a separate Kuala Lumpur High Court courtroom before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, Najib had attended a case mention for three charges of money laundering involving RM27 million of former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds.

9.45am: Najib enters the dock as proceedings begin.

He is seen sitting in the dock, putting away the book he was reading.

9.50am: Bank Negara investigator Azizul Adzani Abdul Ghafar takes the stand again and is cross-examined by defence lawyer Harvinderjit Singh after reproducing a copy of a police report he made after leading a raid on AmBank on July 6, 2015.

10.06am: Harvinderjit said in the report, Azizul stated that there were offences under Section 4 (1) of AMLA (Anti Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001).

The defence lawyer then said it took the officer 34 minutes after the raid to decide it was under Section 4 of AMLA.

Azizul had previously testified that the early order given to him prior to the raid on Ambank’s Raja Chulan branch was to collect documents on suspected offences committed under Part 4 of AMLA.

 

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

An officer who conducted a raid would never make a conclusion that it should be investigated under AMLA, Harvinderjit said, to which Azizul replied “No”.

Azizul’s response today was prompted by earlier cross-examination by Harvinderjit on the alleged discrepancy between the categorisation of the suspected offence under Part 4 in the early directive, and the Section 4 (1) offence stated in the police report lodged a day after the raid.

10.10am: Harvinderjit asks if it was Azizul’s perception that it was an (AMLA) offence from the documents given by Uma Devi to which Azizul replied “right”.

Harvinderjit: Have you been briefed by any other party to come to this trial to give false information?

Azizul: No.

10.22am: Harvinderjit objects to the way prosecutor Suhaimi Ibrahim is re-examining Azizul. A-G Tommy Thomas then gets up to tell the judge that the defence should not be telling the prosecution how to examine the witness.

Prosecution lawyer V Sithambaram backs Tommy to say that when the defence was cross-examining the witness for five hours aggressively, they did not have any objection.

10.25am: After Tommy and Harvinderjit’s heated exchange, Suhaimi goes back to examining the witness.

10.35am: Azizul is excused from the stand and Mohammad Nizam Yahya continues his cross-examination from yesterday.

The third prosecution witness, Nizam is an analyst at the Financial Intelligence Department of Bank Negara.

Nizam was cross-examined over bank documents which he seized from Affin Bank’s Raja Chulan branch on July 6, 2015.

The documents were related to SRC International’s three current accounts with the bank.

10.59am: Najib takes a seat in the public gallery as proceedings halt for a five-minute break.

11.08am: Najib steps back into the dock as his counsel resumes cross-examining Nizam.

11.27am: Nizam said the documents he received were related to Ihsan Perdana from Affin Bank. He gave those copies to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission last year.

11.31am: Harvinderjit said the documents presented to the court are not the complete set received by Nizam from Nimma of Affin Bank.

11.53am: Defence now trying to figure out, by grilling Nizam, how the documents he received from the Affin Bank raid became public online.

Harvinderjit: How did you know the people collecting the docs from you were from the task force?

Nizam: I’m not sure.

11.59am: Prosecution calls the fourth witness, former Bank Negara investigating officer Ahmad Farhan Sharifuddin, 32.

12pm: Nizam steps down after questioning.

12.10pm: Farhan confirms having ordered Azizul to raid AmBank’s Raja Chulan branch on July 6, 2015.

Farhan says he gave the directive to Azizul on suspicion of offences under Part 4 of Amlatfa.

He is replying to Suhaimi during an examination-in-chief.

Previously, Azizul testified that he received an order from Farhan to raid the commercial bank and in the process seized bank documents linked to bank accounts of Najib, SRC International and its subsidiary Gandingan Mentari.

12.30pm: Farhan testifies that he had handed over seized AmBank documents on Najib, SRC International and Gandingan Mentari to MACC officer Wong Chien Hoong on May 30, 2018.

The bank documents in question show transactions ranging between RM5 million and RM40 million having taken place between Dec 2014 and Feb 2015.

12.50pm: Proceedings have stopped for lunch break. Najib leaves the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

It is understood that 40 Najib supporters from Pekan, who had gathered earlier at the court this morning, will now go to his house to perform solat hajat (special prayers).

Najib will also purportedly meet them before proceedings resume after lunch.

2.19pm: Najib returns to the courts complex, and heads straight to the courtroom on the fifth floor.

2.20pm: The trial continues with the cross-examination of Farhan by Harvinderjit.

2.45pm: Farhan testifies there were three Bank Negara teams that raided AmBank’s Raja Chulan branch on July 6, 2015.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

He says that the teams were headed by investigation officer Azizul and two others, who went to the bank that day.

The two teams not headed by Azizul were there to assist a special task force formed that year, he adds.

2.50pm: Farhan says on July 6, his superior gave him a list of AmBank accounts belonging to Najib to investigate, and asked him to investigate any breach of reporting or obligations of the accounts.

Harvinderjit: Were you aware that the special task force was headed by Zeti, Ghani Patail, Khalid and Abu Kassim?

Farhan: I’m aware of the agency but can’t confirm on that.

3.00pm: When asked about the number of times he had met Joanna Yu, Farhan said he could not recall.

Harvinderjit: If you can’t recall, it must’ve been more than once?

Farhan: Yes.

Harvinderjit: On July 6, was that the first time you met her?

Farhan: No, I met her before that.

Farhan said he had met Joanna before because she was 1MDB’s relationship manager.

Harvinderjit: Did you seize Joanna’s blackberry?

Farhan: I can’t recall.

Harvinderjit: Bank Negara Malaysia seized transcripts from her phone and found communications between one Low Taek Jho?

Farhan: I am not sure. I can’t recall. It’s not part of my investigation.

3.25pm: Farhan said the purpose of the raid on AmBank was to look into all the transactions in the accounts and flag those that should have been reported to Bank Negara but were not.

3.30pm: The A-G objects to the line of questioning taken by Harvinderjit towards Farhan.

He tells the judge that Harvinderjit’s cross-examination of Farhan verged on affecting the testimony’s admissibility and relevance.

“Furthermore, at the end of the day, it is also for the protection of the accused,” Thomas says, adding that this may affect the other trials faced by Najib later.

Harvinderjit counters that Farhan needs to answer the questions as it involved the operation of accounts of Gandingan Mentari and the accused, among others.

“Anyway, thank you A-G for taking our (client’s) protection into account,” Harvinderjit says before resuming the cross-examination.

Nazlan overrules the objection and allows questioning.

4.00pm: The defence asks to view the 1MDB documents, but the prosecution objected to this, to which the defence claims there was “blocking going on here”.

The prosecution says there was no blocking, but it was an issue of relevance.

Shafee says that if the prosecution thought that something was irrelevant, it may not be the case for the defence for the purpose of defending their client. The defence and prosecution may not agree about what is relevant or not, therefore it is up to the judge to decide, he says.

Shafee: We just want to have a look at the documents seized from Joanna Yu. How more relevant can it be when these are the documents seized during the raid?

Sithambaram: If you want any document, you have to be specific about it. When they cross-examine, they have to know what documents they need. If not, this is considered “fishing”.

“If they keep asking for documents to check whether they are relevant or admissible, this is already set to be a long trial,” he adds.

Harvinderjit accuses the prosecution of trying to block Najib’s application.

Shafee chimes in, saying that it is still up to the courts to decide whether to allow the bid or not.

He says that the matter is relevant, as Farhan seized bank documents from AmBank, which has a bearing on Najib’s defence.

“There must be leeway for us to explore. We are not seeking the witness’ communication with MACC, just those (documents seized) in his possession which were not in my client’s defence,” he states.

4.30pm: Both sides argue for more than 30 minutes. The defence quotes a Wall Street Journal article from July 15, 2015 and the book ‘Billion Dollar Whale’, which both cite communication between Jho Low and Joanna Yu, to push their point that it is relevant for them to get access to the 1MDB documents, specifically the communication transcripts from Joanna Yu’s Blackberry phone.

Tommy can be seen laughing as the defence pushes their argument, shaking his head and looking around.

4.35pm: Based on Sithambaram’s arguments, Nazlan rules that the law is quite clear, where relevancy must be proved.

“You have to establish relevancy,” he says

4.40pm: Sithambaram still argues that the defence’s request for the 1MDB documents had no relevance to this case.

“Your lordship, I want to put this in legal terms. I am a legal man, I’m not a political man,” he says.

4.50pm: The judge agrees to the defence’s request.

“I’m of the view that given the grounds, request for documents which relate only to the bankers is relevant. The witness is supposed to produce transcripts pertaining to such communications,” he says.

4.55pm: When arguing the defence’s bid for Farhan to produce documents he seized from a raid on Ambank on July 6, 2015, Tommy says he would comply with the judge’s decision but adds that as an officer of the court, he would do things truthfully.

“Are you saying we are not truthful?” Harvinderjit asks.

5pm: The court adjourns and will resume tomorrow at 9am.

5.10pm: There is a brief moment of tension when a youth rushes towards Najib as he leaves the court complex.

He is seen heading straight towards the former premier and demanding to know why he is not allowed to attend the hearing.

Najib pushes and shouts at a police officer who tries to stop the youth.

Biar! Biar dia tanya lah!” (“Leave him be! Let him ask!”)

The police officer lets the youth go.

Najib immediately apologises to the police officer saying, “I’m sorry. He wants to ask me (questions).” The officer nods.

“Why ordinary people have to deal with so many procedures to get into court?” the youth asks.

Anne Muhammad/Malaysiakini

“I don’t know. You’d have to ask the court, it’s not within my powers,” Najib replies.

Najib then gets into his car and leaves, while the youth meets reporters to express his dissatisfaction towards Najib’s response.

Speaking to reporters later, the young man says he wanted to attend the proceedings as it was of public interest.

“This case involves the people’s money. Why do I, as a member of the public, have to go through so many procedures to watch the trial?”

Later identified as a law student from Ipoh, he says he wants to know how the trial is conducted.

“If ordinary people cannot enter, how to see justice in Malaysia,” he says.

He says that he was not allowed in at first, but later managed to obtain a pass from court officers to get into the video link room.


Earlier reports:

Apr 16, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Three

Apr 15, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Two

Apr 3, Najib Trial: Day One