Defence argues that Najib should have been made to answer in a general election instead.
The High Court was incorrect in saying Datuk Seri Najib Razak must be held accountable for abuse of power using a criminal standard in the misappropriation of RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd, the Court of Appeal heard today.
Najib’s lawyer Farhan Read said this during submission in the hearing of Najib’s appeal against the former prime minister’s conviction and jail sentence for misappropriation of RM42 million SRC International funds.
Apologising beforehand to the three-member bench for his sharp-tongued remark, Farhan said trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali appeared “motivated” to hold Najib to account, arguing that the ex-PM should have been made to answer in a general election instead.
“There appears a desire to hold the accused (Najib) to account. The criminal law is not the correct avenue to hold the accused to account,” he said.
Farhan, who is one of the lawyers in Najib’s team, said his client had already paid the price in the 14th General Election (GE14) where the latter lost the elections and grip on power as the ruling government.
“The manner in which the trial judge canvassed the evidence seems to indicate a desire to hold Najib to account.
“However, criminal law is not the avenue to do this.
“He was already held to account in GE14…the criminal law should not be used to do it,” he said in wrapping up Najib’s appeal to overturn his 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving RM42 million of SRC funds.
The appeal is being heard by Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.
Najib was prime minister from April 2009 until May 2018 when the Barisan Nasional administration under his leadership suffered an unprecedented general election defeat, losing to Pakatan Harapan and ending the coalition’s uninterrupted rule since the country’s independence.
Touching on the setting up of SRC, Farhan said evidence showed that it was a desirable and timely initiative in line with the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011 – 2015) and also the National Energy Policy.
He said SRC was also set up on the recommendation of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), which had made its findings independently without any compulsion.
“The EPU’s rationale in recommending the setting up of SRC was in pursuance of national interest considerations consistent with Najib’s role as the prime minister and minister of finance, and nothing else,” he said.
Earlier, Farhan submitted that Najib’s conduct as the finance minister at the time, which is said to demonstrate his interest in SRC International, was not consistent with guilt.
Yesterday, Farhan also submitted that Najib did not have a pecuniary interest in SRC International and that the trial judge had erred in its judgement against Najib.
On the RM4 billion loan which had been issued to SRC by the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP), Farhan submitted that Najib had in no way compelled the fund to release the loan.
He said KWAP officers should have stuck to the merits of SRC’s application, and the judge’s conclusions on the issue did not pay adequate consideration to the role played by the prime minister in the executive administration of the country.
“There is also no evidence to show Najib was involved in any way to expedite the loan process,” he added.
The appeal hearing continues, with the prosecution expected to begin their submissions tomorrow.