Transfer is to replace a retiring judge.
High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who presided over former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s SRC International Sdn Bhd case, has been transferred from the criminal court to the civil court.
According to a circular issued by the Bar Council to all members of the Bar, yesterday, the transfer order was issued by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed.
The Federal Court Chief Registrar’s Office (PKPMP) today confirmed Mohd Nazlan’s transfer to the civil court, which takes effect March 1, 2021.
“Transfers are a normal practice for judges. The transfer of Yang Arif (YA) (His Honour in English) Mohd Nazlan to the Civil Court is to replace YA Wong Chee Lin who will be retiring,” PKPMP said in a statement today.
It also pointed out that Nazlan will continue to hear the remainder of his criminal cases until their disposal, even after the transfer date (March 1).
“There are about 30 remaining criminal cases at High Court 3, before we can close,” it said.
Nazlan has several other high-profile cases to conclude prior to his transfer date, such as:
– Najib and former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah’s criminal breach of trust case, totalling RM6.6 million of government funds, which is expected to continue in September.
– The government’s forfeiture lawsuit to recover more than US$340 million of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) money from PetroSaudi International (PSI) and its director Tarek Obaid.
– A decision against former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad’s criminal breach of trust (CBT) charge and nine corruption charges involving RM3 million in the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites next month.
On Dec 7, Nazlan also granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) to Putrajaya Member of Parliament Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor over a RM1 million corruption case based on appeal from prosecutors.
This was done after deputy public prosecutor Julia Ibrahim informed the judge that she had received instructions from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to seek a DNAA for Tengku Adnan.
However, the former Federal Territories Minister was sentenced to 12 months’ jail and fined RM2 million by another High Court judge, Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, after he was found guilty of corruption by receiving RM2 million for himself from a businessman.
Malaysiakini reported senior member of the Bar, Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar saying the transfer in light of Nazlan’s role in presiding over Najib’s RM42 million SRC International corruption trial would raise eyebrows.
According to Syed Iskandar, the transfer could possibly make the public question whether independence of the judiciary is truly being upheld.
“It is strange for such a transfer to only involve a single judge. We should have instead been on the path to independence of the judiciary with Nazlan’s brave decision,” he said as reported by Malaysiakini.
On July 28 last year, Nazlan sentenced Najib a total of 72 years of prison sentence.
On the abuse of power offence, the accused was slapped with a 12-year jail term and fined RM210 million. For the three criminal breach of trust charges, the jail term is 10 years for each offence, and for the three money laundering charges, the jail term is 10 years for each offence. No fines were imposed for the money laundering charges.
The former premier would only have to serve 12 years in prison as the judge ordered that the sentences run concurrently.
In the event of a default on the RM210 million fine — which is five times the RM42 million in gratification received by Najib — he would be jailed five more years.
However, Najib’s defence succeeded in obtaining a stay of execution of the sentences, pending disposal of an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
In July 2018, Mohd Nazlan was transferred from the New Commercial Court 1 (NCC) to the Criminal High Court 3 to preside over Najib’s RM42 million SRC International case.
He took over from the previous judge, Datuk Mohd Sofian Abd Razak.
It was reported that the Malaysian Bar had called for Mohd Sofian to recuse himself from the case as his elder brother, Mohd Soffi, held a position in UMNO as well as the Pahang state government.
Najib today also reacted to Nazlan’s transfer on his Facebook page.
“That’s right. He was appointed as a judge of the Civil High Court on 30 January 2017.
“A year later, he was suddenly transferred from the Civil Court by the newly appointed chief justice of the week by PH (Pakatan Harapan) to the Criminal Court to replace another judge even though the SRC case was already underway and became his first high court criminal case.
“Now he is being transferred back to civil court,” he posted today.
Former Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram when contacted also said transfers of judges are very common in the judiciary.