Najib’s lawyer says defence unaware Zeti was under investigation

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Shafee claimed that any delay in the Court of Appeal’s decision would be due to the Malaysian authorities’ alleged suppression of evidence.

Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s defence team was not aware that former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Akthar Aziz was under investigation, said lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

He was responding to a question on why the defence did not accept the prosecution’s offer for Zeti to take the stand during the former premier’s RM42 million graft trial involving SRC International.

“In SRC, the prosecution offered her to us as though she was not significant. They never told us Zeti was being investigated,” he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

To another question, Shafee said the defence declined the offer because it had no clue regarding her testimony.

“You do not call a witness when you don’t know what the person would say.

“If we had known that her family received money from Jho Low, I would have applied under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to have the court call her,” he added.

Shafee was commenting on his client filing an application today to adduce new evidence to support his defence, six days before the Court of Appeal is slated to deliver its verdict.

He also said Najib was not at fault for the “last minute” application and that any delay in the Court of Appeal’s decision would be due to the Malaysian authorities’ alleged suppression of evidence.

He said that it was only from November 19 to November 24 that certain information related to the application became available.

Shafee said that Najib’s legal team did not delay in filing this application for the appeal in the case involving RM42 million of former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.

“You know this last-minute application is not caused by us, because on November 19 MACC disclosed this, November 22, the law minister and November 24, Tan Sri Tommy Thomas,” Shafee said in the hybrid press conference that was also held via the video-conferencing platform Zoom, referring to information that was made publicly available recently.

While wishing that such information could have been told earlier to Najib’s legal team, Shafee said it was not too late, and suggested that the alleged suppressed evidence could still be added into the SRC appeal as the Court of Appeal has not delivered its decision.

“As long as the decision is not given, the matter is still pending, but the decision itself has been pending for the last six months.

“So, the fact that we discovered this by sheer accident and coincidence is not our fault, we discovered it beginning from November 19, culminating in November 24, and we filed the application yesterday.

“We didn’t delay at all. Within days of discovering this, we made some affirmation, my client made a police report, so what I would expect is for the Court of Appeal to make a decision whether to allow or not to allow. We thought we should make this application as early as possible, otherwise we will be accused of not using this evidence which has been concealed from us for so long,” he said.

The senior lawyer also referred to former attorney-general Tommy Thomas’ comments on Zeti during an interview on Nov 24.

“… Thomas, during an interview, candidly admitted to knowledge of ‘the role of Zeti and her husband in facilitating Jho Low’ regarding 1MDB.

“Thomas further revealed that there were investigation papers opened by MACC against the former BNM governor during his tenure as the attorney-general.

“The information recently disclosed above are of material relevance to our client’s defence and appears to have been suppressed from our client despite the same being available at the time of his SRC trial that has the effect of prejudicing his defence,” he added.

The Court of Appeal fixed Dec 8 to deliver its decision on Najib’s appeal to quash the High Court’s guilty verdict as well as the 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine in the SRC corruption case.

In his affidavit, Najib said he is seeking to adduce the new evidence after the revelation by MACC that Singapore had repatriated to Malaysia US$15.4 million in 1MDB-linked funds that involved a company co-owned by Zeti’s husband, Tawfiq Ayman.

“I verily believe that despite the matters being reported to BNM and Zeti personally, Zeti’s role in facilitating Jho Low resulted in no red flags or irregularities being raised on matters relating to the transactions in my (bank) accounts from 2011 to 2015 and further provided means for Jho Low to carry out his manipulations.

“I verily believe that had such evidence been adduced during the trial, the trial court would have arrived at different findings in my favour and resultantly reasonable doubt would have been found to have been raised against the prosecution’s case on all the charges, both at the trial court and this honourable Court (of Appeal),” he said.

Regardless of whether the Court of Appeal decides in the SRC appeal in favour of Najib or the prosecution, Shafee said he expected it to be further appealed: “I’m sure either way it will go to the Federal Court.”

As for Najib’s travel plans, Shafee said his client is expected to return from Singapore on December 5 and to return his passport by December 6, but said it was unclear what the latest quarantine measures are.