Najib’s SRC Trial: Najib Sentenced to 12 Years, Fined RM210M

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Harvinderjit begins the process of applying for a stay of execution pending an appeal at the Court of Appeal.

2.20pm: Najib re-enters the court from the witness room.

Lawyers have taken their positions and are preparing their submissions.

Court is in session.

2.25pm: Shafee refers to a case he handled, whereby a judge convicted a client but did not pass sentence because the accused asked for a postponement of sentencing.

He refers to another case where the accused received postponement of sentencing for three days after the verdict was delivered.

Shafee refers to a third case where a high court judge adjourned the court after delivering the verdict. The judge later sentenced the accused to death by hanging.

“It is a common theme, Yang Ariff,” says Shafee.

He refers to another Court of Appeal case in 2017 where a man accused of murdering his wife later attempted to commit suicide.

The respondent pleaded guilty to the second charge and the judge postponed the sentencing of the second charge until conviction of the first charge, says Shafee.

Najib’s lawyer refers to other cases whereby the passing of the sentence was postponed after the verdicts were delivered, including one case where it was postponed for a month.

Shafee refers to Dickinson vs Public Prosecutor in 1955, where the drunk driver was convicted and his sentencing postponed due to enable proper mitigation to be conducted.

2.40pm: Nazlan asks whether the accused was already in custody in most of the cases Shafee mentions.

“Not all,” says Shafee.

Shafee maintains that sentencing and mitigation can be separated from the day verdict is delivered.

He says he was informed by former solicitor-general Yusof Zainal Abiden that such arrangements are routine.

2.45pm: Nazlan asks whether Najib’s status has changed since conviction and whether additional bail is needed.

Shafee says not, citing another case where the accused was a sentenced for two years.

“The accused had RM500,000 bail and it was not increased,” says Shafee, adding that the role of bail is not to punish but to ensure the accused appears in court.

Shafee says his client has been compliant.

“And now with the MCO, we are all equally punished. So where is the risk?”

2.50pm: Sithambaram addresses the court, saying all except one case mentioned by Shafee involved accused who had already pleaded guilty.

“The only case that comes closest to today’s hearing is the Brunei case of Murni.

“That is the only case where Chief Justice Roberts, in a full trial case, the sentencing indeed was adjourned. But the passage that I would like your Lordship to read…”

Sithambaram reads out the judgment by the Chief Justice of Brunei, saying that courts should only grant postponement under exceptional circumstances.

“The defence is not satisfied that the request for a written judgment is not available. We say that your Lordship has delivered the judgment. That should be sufficient.”

Sithambaram refers to the US legal system allowing for postponement of sentencing, as cited by the defence.

However, the prosecutor says the US legal system requires a jury, whereas in the SRC International trial, the hearing is before the judge.

Sithambaram wishes the court to record the prosecution’s objection to the application by the defence to postpone the sentencing.

“The court is duty-bound to pass the sentence. Finally, the status of the accused being on bail pre-conviction and post-conviction is very different.”

Sithambaram says if an adjournment is granted, Najib must be required to pay additional bail.

2.57pm: Shafee responds saying in most guilty plea cases, adjournments for sentencing are to allow the accused to change their minds before sentencing. Referring to the US jury trial system, Shafee says sentencing is the prerogative of the judge, not the jury.

“This is after a harrowing trial, the judge has to postpone sentencing, especially after hearing the mitigating circumstances.”

“The law says if the accused is convicted, the court shall then pass sentence according to law. But only if it is said, when the accused is convicted, then my learned friend (Sithambaram) may have a point.”

Nazlan takes a moment to decide.

3.05pm: “Although there are situations where sentencing can be postponed, the accused needs a good excuse for sentencing to be postponed,” says Nazlan.

He dismisses the adjournment for sentencing and orders that mitigation proceed. However, he notes that Najib can still apply for a stay of execution, but only after sentencing.

3.10pm: Shafee responds by saying he is “crippled” because he is not able to take instructions on mitigation, adding that he is “completely hampered’ and would not be able to make mitigation a “very smooth” process.

“Mitigation ought not to be taken ritualistic and ought to be taken seriously,” says Shafee referring to a prior judgment.

However, he begins the mitigation process, saying Najib was born in Kuala Nipis, Pahang, on July 23, 1953, and has a degree from the University of Nottingham.

Shafee says Najib received his primary and secondary education at St John’s Institution in Kuala Lumpur.

The lawyer proceeds to list Najib’s political activities beginning with Pekan Umno.

3.18pm: Najib provided three statements to the MACC between 2015 and 2018, and other statements to the police, Shafee says.

3.25pm: SRC was set up on EPU’s recommendation despite the fact it was mooted by 1MDB, says Shafee.

“The idea of setting up SRC was a noble one, because like Petronas it was for the continued supply of electricity, relying on other than gas and oil.

“My client informs me that he was in fact very supportive of idea of the setting up of SRC in view of the policy and the motivation of SRC’s establishment. And it is only for that sole reason that he may have been seen to be eager and in fact acted swiftly on certain decisions. He says that must not be mistaken with the idea that he is swift to make some decisions because he has got some bad motives.”

“Yang Ariff, my client has never been a person who is involved in corporate matters. He has never been a board member or been in a position to advise a board.

“As Yang Ariff has experience with the Securities Commission… my client is not a professional corporate person. His genuine belief that the board members would have done their own due compliances and due diligence, he holds that until today.

“He believes that was what they were supposed to do. He never micromanaged any of these decisions and he says, and I want to stress this, if he was at fault, he was only at fault for trusting people that ought the run the company, both 1MDB as well as SRC.

“In certain instances, he overtrusted them. For that, he is willing to take the blame, but he is not the first prime minister to overtrust people.”

Shafee says all prime ministers, particularly Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had the misfortune to need to overly trust people and to rely on them.

3.35pm: Shafee says the criminal justice system “would be better respected if any accused person, and not just my client, can walk away feeling justice has been done”.

Shafee says rogue bankers such as former SRC International CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and former director Suboh Md Yassin “are more guilty”.

“My client feels he’s been singled out, while others who are more guilty have seen no attempt to bring them to justice,” adding that Najib feels he is a victim of “political circumstances”.

Shafee said the investigation may have fallen short in that regard.

“I would also like to highlight that my client has undergone severe punishment, that he has been charged in at least four other courts. He has also been hounded by the tax department and the most ridiculous sum of money is now placed on him as taxable income of RM1.69 billion. A staggering amount on an individual. Which means the tax department is saying his income is times five that, which is preposterous and unbelievable. It is as unbelievable…as to claim a cow can jump over the moon.”

Shafee says Najib is a victim of overt “oppression”.

“He, therefore, suffers as a consequence of that.”

3.39pm: Shafee says 45% of the RM42 million goes to parties to fund welfare, corporate social responsibility and charity programmes.

He says less than 1% was spent on home renovations and card transactions. Meanwhile, this is the first corruption case in which the convicted person spent so little on himself.

Shafee maintains that Najib returned US$620 million (RM2.6 billion) of the US$681 million that he received.

“The higher the person, the more serious the fall he would feel. That in itself is punishment,” Shafee says in conclusion.

He informs the court Najib will make a statement to the court after the prosecution makes its submission.

4.10pm: This sentence should serve as a reminder that no one is above the law, says Sithambaram.

The prosecutor says Najib has failed in his obligations to the public and calls for a sentence that will serve as a warning to those holding any similar such office as Najib.

4.13pm: “Corruption is widespread in this country and must not be tolerated for Malaysia to emerge as a first world country. Punishment and deterrence should be of paramount (importance),” says Sithambaram.

“Just as those at high places behave so will those below. Any leniency shown will be misplaced sympathy and a disaster to society.”

4.15pm: Sithambaram says after former attorney-general Apandi Ali cleared Najib of wrongdoing in 2016, the former prime minister took no steps to return the RM42 million.

“This case has tarnished the country’s image, turning it into a kleptocracy.”

Sithambaram says no prime minister cum finance minister has ever been found guilty in Malaysia.

He says previous sentences handed down to public officers are not in the league of Najib, such as police officers and state ex-cos.

4.21pm: “The law is no respecter of persons,” says Sithambaram.

He says the sentence must deter other members of society from repeating Najib’s crime.

4.30pm: Sithambaram reads out a judgment by former Lord President Raja Azlan Shah when convicting former Umno Youth chief Harun Idris in 1977:

“It is painful for me to have to sentence a man I know. I wish it were the duty of some other judge to perform that task. To me, this hearing seems to reaffirm the vitality of the rule of law. But to many of us, this hearing also suggests a frightening decay in the integrity of some of our leaders.

“It has given horrible illustrations of Lord Acton’s aphorism ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’, and has focused concern on the need of some avowed limitations upon political authority.

“…the law is no respecter of persons. Nevertheless, it will be impossible to ignore the fact that you are in a different category from any person that I have ever tried. It would be impossible to ignore the fact that, in the eyes of millions of our countrymen and women, you are a patriot and a leader.

“Even those who differ from you in politics look upon you as a man of high ideals. You had every chance to reach the greatest height of human achievement. But half-way along the road, you allowed avarice to corrupt you.

“It is incomprehensible how a man in your position could not, in your own conscience, recognise corruption for what it is. In so doing, you have not only betrayed your party’s cause, for which you have spoken so eloquently, but also the oath of office which you have taken and subscribed before your Sovereign Ruler, and above all, the law of which you are its servant.”

4.39pm: Sithambaram refers to the case of former Selangor MB Khir Toyo who was convicted for corruption. He said the 12-month jail sentence handed to Khir in 2011 was described by High Court judge Wira Mohtarudin Baki as necessary and deterrence to ensure other holders of public office do not abuse their positions.

4.54pm: Sithambaram cites the case of India vs Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who was found guilty of corruption.

5.25pm: Sithambaram concludes his submission.

He says the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of RM210 million, five times the laundered sum of RM42 million, is sought for the conviction for abuse of power.

5.30pm: Shafee says Najib wishes to address the court.

“He will be extremely polite and he will say something relevant.”

5.35pm: “I would like to refer to my tenure as prime minister the country prospered to the extent it experienced robust economic growth,” says Najib.

“Also, a period during which we saved the stock market from the longest-ever bull run. Ended almost 1,900 points on the KLSE.

“During this period, I oversaw massive infrastructure development throughout this country, including public transport and public housing on a massive scale.

“I also ensured every single community in this country benefited, for example farmers, smallholders, fishermen and government servants. They benefited from programmes that boosted their income.

Najib says Petronas gave dividends, as did Tabung Haji.

He says he was for the abolishment for the Internal Security Act, which was something “I was not given much credit for”.

“In this regard, I also put in a proposal to implement a more transparent system of political donation and that proposal required opposition support but the opposition at the time did not agree and so that proposal did not see the light of day.”

“So, Yang Ariff, I would like to say in a nutshell that second, as a Muslim, but let me say this once again, I did not demand the RM42 million, nor was the RM42 million offered to me and there was no evidence to say so. I would like to say I do not have knowledge of the RM42 million.”

Nazlan orders the court to stand down for 15 minutes, after which he will deliver the sentence.

6.28pm: The judge says the purpose of laws governing criminal acts is to prevent offenders from repeating the offence.

Nazlan also noted the accomplishments of the accused during his tenure.

For abuse of power, Nazlan sentences Najib to 12 years and a fine of RM210 million. Nazlan adds five years to the sentence in lieu of failure to pay the fine.

He also sentences the former prime minister to 10 years for each of the CBT and money-laundering charges. All prison sentences are to run concurrently.

There is no fine for the money laundering charges.

6.35pm: Najib did not visibly react to the passing of the sentence.

Harvinderjit begins the process of applying for a stay of execution pending an appeal at the Court of Appeal. – TMI

Earlier report: Jul 28, Najib’s SRC Trial: Najib Found Guilty of All 7 Charges