DPP Sithambaram: Najib’s lawyers misled Federal Court

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Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyers were today accused of misleading the Federal Court by fabricating events which happened during the SRC International Sdn Bhd appeal hearing at the Court of Appeal (COA) in December last year.

Lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram rebuked the former prime minister’s lawyers by informing the Federal Court panel of five judges that parts of the defence submissions today was not borne out of what actually happened during the appeal stage.

Touching on the part where Najib’s lawyers submitted about an alleged threat issued by the COA to revoke Najib’s bail, Sithambaram said what transpired on that day was not how the defence had depicted it in their submissions.

“It is a fabrication…it did not occur as such.

Mohd Fadli Hamzah/NST

“The court did not threaten as such. The submission was not borne out of what the judge actually said,” the senior criminal lawyer who is acting as a Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) said.

He said this in his submissions in the hearing where Najib is applying to adduce fresh evidence in his SRC International case.

Earlier, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah lamented that the defence was badly mistreated by the COA when Najib’s appeal was heard by the panel in December last year.

Shafee said the behaviour of the COA judges left the defence walking away feeling justice was not done to them.

“We were not treated fairly…we never got the light of day as they shut their minds from hearing us out right from the start.

“The chairman (of the COA bench) was especially unsympathetic to the misfortune which befell my law firm on that day and we were forced to go through the whole process through a hybrid hearing,” he said, recalling how one of the lawyers in his firm had tested positive for Cocvid 19 on Dec 7, 2021, but the COA still insisted on going through with the hearing via online proceedings.

Shafee lamented that the entire appeal hearing on Dec 7 started on a wrong footing with the judges threatening to revoke Najib’s bail for not showing up even though an explanation had been given about his absence on that day.

Najib, who is out on RM2 million bail, is seeking to include new evidence and wants to call Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Tan Sri Azam Baki and SRC International investigating officer Rosli Hussein to testify.

He is seeking to do so even after the COA last year affirmed the High Court’s decision in July 2020 to convict Najib on seven charges of corruption involving RM42 million of SRC International funds that entered his accounts.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million for committing the offence.

In his application to include fresh evidence, Najib argued that issues raised in the High Court and the COA had not been fully determined and he had therefore not received a fair trial.

Among other things, he argued that the defence only recently learnt that the MACC had confirmed that RM65 million of 1MDB-linked funds were recovered from Cutting Edge Industries, a company in Singapore controlled by Datuk Tawfiq Ayman, the husband of former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, and his business partner, Samuel Goh.

The prosecution, however, has contended that the banking information of Zeti’s family is irrelevant to Najib’s SRC corruption case because the banking transactions dated back to 2008.

Sithambaram submitted that the prosecution’s case has never relied on this banking information that predated SRC’s existence.

Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB established SRC as a subsidiary in 2011. A year later, SRC became wholly owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc).

“The money (subject of the banking information sought by Najib) went into Tawfiq’s account between 2008 and 2009. But the (SRC) money came into (Najib’s) account in 2014.

“SRC did not even exist when the money went into Tawfiq’s account, and they (Najib’s lawyers) wanted to rely on this,” Sithambaram said.

In relation to Najib’s defence team’s contention that the Court of Appeal had not given him a fair hearing over the fresh evidence bid, Sithambaram countered that the Appeal Court did not practise any ‘double treatment’ (double standard).

The DPP also pointed out that Najib’s lawyers filed the fresh evidence application on Dec 1 last year, and they had continued to file replies to the prosecution’s written submissions as late as Dec 6 (the Court of Appeal heard the fresh evidence bid on Dec 7).

Sithambaram remarked that despite Shafee’s contention that Najib’s legal team were under quarantine due to one of them coming down with Covid-19, the filings continued right up to the eve of the hearing.

“By filing at the last minute, what do they (Najib’s lawyers) expect? Cannot expect to postpone. If the hearing was to go on, they must already be ready to submit,” Sithambaram submitted.

Proceedings before the Federal Court resumes tomorrow.