Facing the prospect of jail time, Rosmah in tears after order to defend bribe charge

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Rosmah’s nightmare has just begun.

Finance Twitter

As expected, Rosmah Mansor was ordered by the High Court to defend herself in corruption involving a RM1.25 billion project for the supply of electricity to 369 rural schools in Sarawak. And there’s a good reason why she burst into tears. She was extremely upset, shocked, and even terrified over the real prospect of jail time.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said that the prosecution has successfully proven a prima facie case against Rosmah on all of her three charges. Essentially, a prima facie is a legal term and a Latin expression, meaning there is sufficient evidence unless rebutted or disproved. In layman terms, it simply means Auntie Rosie is guilty as hell.

With prima facie established against her, the burden of proof has been shifted from the prosecution to the defence. The burden of proof on the prosecution team is over. In the criminal cases against Rosmah, the self-proclaimed FLOM (First Lady of Malaysia), the prosecution has successfully established the fact beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

Now, Rosmah’s legal team has to prove that the Imelda Marcos of Malaysia is innocent, an uphill task considering that the most difficult and challenging part has always been for the prosecution to prove the defendant’s guilt. After the court’s ruling yesterday, the prosecution does not need to do anything. Auntie Rosie’s so-called legal eagles have to find the magic wand to get her acquitted.

Once the most powerful woman in Malaysia, the wife of former Prime Minister Najib knew very well that she’s just inches away from spending years in prison. If it was difficult for the prosecution to establish a prima facie, it’s doubly hard for the defence to cast a doubt. That was why Auntie Rosie cried, and was emotionally upset and distressed, according to her lawyer Jagjit Singh.

Delivering his verdict, Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said – “It is my findings that the prosecution has adduced credible evidence to prove every element of the offences under the three charges, which, if unrebutted, warrants a conviction.” The defence team, consisting of lawyers Jagjit Singh and Akberdin Abdul Kadir, said they felt saddened by the judge’s decision.

Apparently, the judge was satisfied that the prosecution had proven that between January and April 2016, Rosmah had solicited RM187.5 million from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsuddin through her former special aide Rizal Mansor. The kickback was an inducement to assist Jepak Holdings obtain the Solar and Genset project from the Education Ministry through direct negotiations.

Judge Zaini was also convinced that the disgraced Rosmah had received RM1.5 million from Saidi on September 7, 2017 (second charge) and another RM5 million on Dec 20, 2016 (third charge). Rosmah aide, Rizal, has admitted he personally received almost RM1 million from Saidi, as well as a sponsored “Umrah” pilgrimage for Rizal and his family in 2016.

Rizal was hired by “boss” Rosmah as “special officer” from 2009 to the middle of 2018. His primary responsibilities involved protecting Rosmah’s image and reputation, such as arranging media coverage to boost her popularity. Rosmah had in 2012 ordered the setting up of a team of cybertroopers to spread political propaganda with a funding of RM100,000 per month.

More importantly, Jepak Holdings managing director Saidi has admitted to paying bribes to the former prime minister’s wife to secure the RM1.25 billion project in Sarawak. A consultant of Jepak, Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah, told the court how two black bags containing RM1.5 million cash were delivered to Rosmah Mansor’s Langgak Duta residence in 2017.

Defence attorneys could only argue that Rosmah did not personally receive the RM1.5 million, which was left inside the living room of her private residence. But witness Saidi said that while Rosmah did not touch the bags, she had acknowledged the payment when he mentioned it to her. “She just said hmm when I told her about it. She did not look surprised”, – said the witness.

If Najib’s previous corruption trials are any indicator, Rosmah definitely has every reason to cry. Her lawyers tried to put up a brave face, comforting her that not everything is lost as the defence can finally rebut the prosecution’s case. Well, that was precisely what Najib’s hotshot lawyers said too. Najib’s top lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, has been bragging how he could easily win the case for his client.

Big Mama Rosmah’s trial verdict today brings back the sweet memory in November 2019 when High Court Judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali ordered former PM Najib Razak to enter his defence. Like Rosmah’s case, the judge similarly said the prosecution had established its case on charges of abuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering against Najib.

Attorney Shafee, who had won most of his cases during the previous corrupt Barisan Nasional administration largely due to political pressure, bribery and intimidation – and not because of his brilliance – had criticized the court’s decision in Nov 2019. He had argued that the judge had chosen a “different interpretation of facts and laws” on the defence arguments.

And like yesterday’s stunning court decision that has led Rosmah to tears, Najib was equally shocked 16 months ago when the court did not free him. Eventually, Najib, who walked the corridors of power from 2009 to 2018, was sentenced in July 2020 to 12 years in prison for abuse of power, and 10 years in jail for each of six counts of money laundering and breach of trust (CBT).

Additionally, Najib was fined RM210 million, and will serve an additional five years if he fails to pay. He was given a total of 72 years in prison. However, because the judge allows the jail sentences to run concurrently, Najib is looking at a jail term of only 12 years, being the highest duration of jail term among all the seven charges. If loses all his appeals, he will become the first former PM to be jailed.

Obviously not expecting the result, Najib said he was “very disappointed” with the verdict to send him to prison. Despite successfully obtaining a stay of execution for his sentence so that he could appeal, he could no longer smile, as he normally would. Rosmah had actually expected an acquittal yesterday, or at least a DNAA (discharge not amounting to an acquittal).

The fact that the defence lawyers expressed their utmost disappointment with the judge’s decision suggests that the Malaysian criminal couple had anticipated a very different outcome today. Crooked Najib probably thought after his conviction in July last year, the government would not be interested to imprison his crooked wife.

Unfortunately for Najib, 69-year-old Rosmah was and arguably is still the most hated woman in the country. She faces a maximum 20 years’ jail and a fine of not less than five times the amount of the gratification if convicted. With backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s popularity plunging like a rock, it seems the idea of sending Najib to jail is not sufficient to boost his image.

It would certainly boost Muhyiddin’s popularity a few more notches if both Najib and Rosmah are sent to prison. People were already angry that Riza Aziz, the stepson of Najib Razak and favourite son of Rosmah Mansor, had been discharged not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on May 14 last year because the crook had agreed to return the stolen money.

On July 5, 2019, Riza was slapped with five charges of money laundering involving US$248 million (RM1.25 billion), which were misappropriated from sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). However, under Muhyiddin Yassin regime, Riza got a deal which required him to return about US$107.3 million (RM465.3 million) worth of overseas assets in exchange for his freedom.

To make matters worse for Auntie Rosie, Judge Zaini has accepted the prosecution’s application to have the infamous “Can I advise you something” audio clips and transcripts to be admitted as evidence, reversing his earlier ruling on December 11, 2020. Rizal has identified the two voices in the recording as belonging to Najib and Rosmah.

The prosecution wanted the audio clip to be admitted as evidence to show Rosmah as having “considerable influence”, hence possessed the power to help Jepak Holdings secure the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project. It appears the court and the prosecution are determined to leave no stone unturned in convicting the crook. Big Mama’s nightmare has just begun. – Finance Twitter