The prosecution in the SRC International trial submitted today that Najib Razak’s shock upon finding out that RM42 million was in his account was an act and that the former prime minister would have lodged a police report if he was innocent.
Deputy public prosecutor V Sithambaram told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that Najib could have also sued AmBank for allowing unauthorised transactions in his personal bank accounts.
“If you are the prime minister of a country and if somebody banked RM42 million into your account, I think any normal person would lodge a police report and have the matter investigated. But nothing of the sort happened,” he said during the prosecution’s oral submission today.
Sithambaram was referring to the testimony of 37th prosecution witness Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd managing director Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman that Najib appeared shocked when informed in mid-2015 that RM42 million that was transacted into his accounts were from SRC International.
Ihsan Perdana was SRC International’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) partner. Shamsul Anwar was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on June 3, 2015 and held for four nights.
Najib’s charges are linked to RM4 billion in loans issued to SRC International in 2011 and 2012, for which he is accused of receiving RM42 million in his accounts in 2014 and 2015.
During submissions today, Sithambaram argued that Najib should have sued the bank for unlawful deposits and that a police report should have been lodged “to show his outrage of unauthorized monies being paid into his account”.
“The accused should have hounded the police to investigate the case. None of these simple steps were taken, which showed that the accused present cry of innocence cannot be true.
“Therefore, the accused’s inaction is incredible of a person whose account could have been used to perpetuate a crime, unless the accused was aware of the crime himself and feared any police report would expose him.
“No sitting prime minister would not have made a police report of RM42 million being paid into his account without his knowledge.”
Sithambaram also referred to former SRC International CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and Penang-born businessman Low Taek Jho, commonly known as Jho Low, who were mentioned and blamed by the defence for illicit activities within the government-linked entity.
“A lot of people have been named, such as Nik Faisal and Jho Low, but we have seen no proof that money went into their accounts. The only person we have proof that money went into his account is the accused.”
Sithambaram said Low was acting on behalf of Najib to ensure that the 66-year-old accused had at all times sufficient funds to utilise for the various purposes.
“It is clear that Jho Low never utilised any of the funds in the accused’s three current accounts and, therefore, he did not gain anything by depositing funds into the accounts except to ensure that the cheques of ‘Optimus Prime’ (Low’s codename for Najib) did not bounce.”
Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh earlier argued that the prosecution’s contention that Najib had planned to siphon the RM42 million does not make sense as SRC International had a board of directors and went through the proper processes.
It would have been improbable for Najib to have such a plan in mind when setting up the entity, he said.
Harvinderjit said money from the RM4 billion in loans were disbursed the same day SRC International received them, and that nobody can give an account of what happened to the money.
“Ultimately, the board of directors didn’t know anything with regard to the flow of the money,” he said, arguing that a “shadow director” like Najib, too, would not have known anything about the funds, as he would have needed the board’s approval to get the money.
Sithambaram later responded to a comment by Harvinderjit, who in arguing for Najib’s innocence, said it seemed like “a raw deal” that the former prime minister got only RM42 million from a sum of RM4 billion in loans.
“The fact remains that there is RM3.6 billion still lying in (a bank in) Lugano, Switzerland, and there was an attempt by the accused to bring it back that money and that it was not allowed.”
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said last month that steps are being taken to recover some RM3.6 billion, which were taken by BSI Bank in Switzerland (over US$800 million), Bank Julius Baer & Co Ltd in Hong Kong (US$250 million) and a coal exploration firm in Mongolia (US$60 million).
“The government via SRC International is now actively taking civil action for the purpose of recovering these funds and also working with the authorities to track down the money, aside from working with law advisers to determine the kind of civil action can be taken to recover SRC assets.
“These measures do not include part of the RM42 million fund allegedly embezzled from SRC International and the subject of the seven criminal charges being tried at the Kuala Lumpur High Court,” he said.
Najib is charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money-laundering and one count of abuse of power. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years’ jail.
The former prime minister is represented by a dozen lawyers, led by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Attorney-General Tommy Thomas leads the prosecution before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. – TMI