In unanimous decision, Court of Appeal upholds decision that Najib guilty on all counts

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The Court of Appeal today branded Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s conduct in the misappropriation of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd as a national embarrassment.

Highlights:

  • Conviction, 12-year sentence, RM210m fine upheld
  • Najib’s fingerprint on SRC’s wrongdoings could be seen right from its establishment
  • Najib motivated by personal gain, not national interest
  • SRC’s RM42 million ended up in Najib’s personal accounts
  • Najib’s argument that money had been given to him by the Saudi Royal family unbelievable

A panel of three judges branded Najib a national embarrassment before ruling that his conviction, along with the 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine for misappropriating RM42 million of the company funds should be upheld.

Judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who chaired the bench alongside justices Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, delivered the ruling via video-conferencing at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.

Reading from a summary of the judgment, Abdul Karim said the flow of RM42 million from SRC into Najib’s personal accounts was not something that can be said to have been done in national interest.

“There is no national interest here, just a national embarrassment,” he said.

The judge said Najib, 68, had been actively involved in ensuring the RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) was disbursed to SRC, allegedly for the company to invest in such resources.

Azman Ghani/The Star

However, he said Najib became indifferent to the whereabouts of the funds once the money was released to SRC.

“He did inquire from SRC as to what happened to the funds, how it was utilised and for what purpose.

“He even instructed the second Finance Minister then to lay off from SRC.

“This conduct can be indicative of only one thing and that is he was free to utilise it for his personal benefit,” he said.

Abdul Karim said Najib’s fingerprint on SRC’s wrongdoings could be seen right from its establishment, the loan application, intervention in the loan application, and influence in the issuance of government guarantees for the loan.

He said Najib had even rushed the disbursement of the loan for non-existent investments.

“The evidence negates Najib’s contention that he was motivated by national interest and not personal gain when he pushed the Cabinet to issue the government guarantees for the loan.”

The judges also ruled that there was ample evidence to show that Najib had complete control of SRC as he used his positions as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to exercise his authority over the company.

On the flow of the RM42 million, the court ruled that it was obvious the money belonged to SRC before it ended up in Najib’s personal accounts.

“The money trail is all there. The evidence adduced by the prosecution shows the movement of the money was done through acts of dishonest misappropriation.

“The money not only ended up in his accounts but was utilised by him.”

On Najib’s arguments that the transfer of funds had been done without his knowledge, the court found there was overwhelming evidence to show the banks had acted upon valid transfer instructions from SRC before finally being credited into his account.

Abdul Karim noted that Najib never complained about the funds ending up in his account but was quite content to receive and utilise the funds.

“The natural thing for any account holder who has mistakenly or inadvertently received funds into his account would be to return it and correct the error.

“However, Najib never did any such thing,” he said.

On Najib’s defence that the funds had been utilised for corporate, social responsibility projects, the judge said there was no evidence to support the assertion.

“The expenditures were for personal benefit of the appellant, directly and indirectly, and in some cases for political purposes to advance his own political career.”

On the Arab donations defence, the court found Najib’s argument that the money had been given to him by the Saudi Royal family as unbelievable.

“We too found this Arab donation defence untenable. Firstly, the evidence clearly shows that the funds originated from SRC.

“If it was a personal donation from the Saudis, there is no reason for it to be deposited into SRC’s account, which is a government linked company owned by the Ministry of Finance.

“We agree with the prosecution’s contention that circumstances surrounding a letter allegedly issued by the Saudi Royalty clearly shows it is a fabrication.”

Abdul Karim said based on the evidence, it was clear the High Court did not make any mistakes in convicting Najib.

“Najib had deliberately shut his eyes and chose not to verify the origins of the funds.

“At the same time, he spent the RM42 million for his own purposes and benefit.”

The prosecution in Najib’s case was led by Datuk V Sithambaram, who was assisted by Deputy Public Prosecutors Donald Joseph Franklin, Sulaiman Kho Kheng Fuei, and Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul while Najib’s defence was headed by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Najib’s sentences

For one count of power abuse:

– Five years jail- RM210 million fiine (five times the bribe amount of RM42 million)

– For three counts of criminal breach of trust:

– 10 years jail for each count

For three counts of money laundering:

– 10 years jail for each count

As the sentences were to run concurrently, he faces 12 years jail and RM210 million fine. If he fails to pay the fine, Najib faces another five years in prison.

Meanwhile, prosecutors insist there was no element of politics in the corruption charges filed against Najib.

Dispelling Najib’s claim of political persecution, ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram noted that investigation papers used for the case contained nothing other than “hard cold facts”, including various witnesses’ testimonies and documents.

“There is no politics inside there. These are facts. Hard, cold facts and we have to interpret these facts reasonably, which we did and presented it to the court.

“So far, four judges have looked at it and found that the evidence presented against Najib is justified to show the commission of the offences of which he is charged with and the sentence that was passed.

“So, I think the facts speak for itself,” he told reporters during a press conference.