As a bankrupt, Najib cannot contest in the coming 15th General Election.
Unless he pays about RM1.74 billion (approximately RM1,738,804,204.16), Najib Razak, the world’s biggest crook, will soon face bankruptcy. The former Malaysian prime minister owes LHDN (Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri or Inland Revenue Board) the taxes for the years 2011 to 2017 for additional income tax assessment and penalties for not paying the additional assessment.
The IRB first filed the suit on June 25, 2019, demanding Najib pay a whopping RM1,692,872,924.83 owed between 2011 and 2017. The lawsuit was initiated by the now-collapsed Pakatan Harapan government after Najib – stubbornly and arrogantly – ignored the IRB’s initial demand in March 2019 for additional tax assessments of RM1.47 billion (approximately RM1,465,690,844).
Apparently, the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) has slapped Najib with a tax bill for an extra RM1.47 billion of undeclared taxable income of close to RM4 billion between 2011 and 2017, including the RM2.6 billion (US$681 million) “donation” that he has consistently claimed was from Saudi Arabia royal family, a claim that could not be fully substantiated.
Najib’s failure to respond to an initial inquiry by the IRB saw a 10% hike of RM147 million (approximately RM146,569,084.39) in April and another compounded 5% hike of RM80 million (approximately RM80,612,996.39) in May 2019, bringing the total of tax owed to RM1.69 billion. The penalty was in line with Section 103 of the Income Tax Act 1967 after Najib had failed to pay within 30 days.
There was some interruption and delay in the case in 2020 when traitors Muhyiddin Yassin, Azmin Ali and Hamzah Zainudin plotted with Opposition UMNO Malays nationalist and PAS Islamist party to topple their own government, leading to the collapse of the legitimate and democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government. However, Najib has failed to get off the hook.
Seen as an immediate threat to Muhyiddin’s position in the fragile government, the newly crowned prime minister has refused to help Najib. On February 28, 2020, just days before Mahiaddin alias Muhyiddin was sworn in as the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia on March 1, 2020, High Court judge Ahmad Bache denied Najib’s application to obtain a stay over the RM1.69 billion tax lawsuit.
On June 22, 2020, Justice Ahmad Bache said that the court will take about a month to arrive at a decision after Najib’s lawyer Farhan Shafee argued a month earlier (May 2020) that the unpaid tax the IRB was seeking was from donations given to Najib. Even though the attorney claimed the donations were not taxable, the defence could not fully prove the originality of such donations.
Farhan, son of infamous Najib lawyer Shafee, had argued – “We have the RM2.6 billion Arab donation that went into Najib’s account, but after he used the money for elections, around US$620 million was returned to the Arabs. This has come out in Najib’s other court cases and there is money trail proof – in black and white – of these transactions. So how can the IRB tax the amount that was returned to the Arab royalty?”
While Farhan was defending Najib in the tax lawsuit, his father – Muhammad Shafee – was leading a powerful defence team of lawyers in the former prime minister’s charges of corruption in the 1MDB scandal. The so-called top lawyers have never been able to prove that the entire RM2.6 billion found in Najib’s private bank account originated from the royal family of Saudi Arabia.
The biggest problem is Najib does not possess all the necessary documents to substantiate his bizarre claims. To make matters worse, his arguments were full of contradictions. First, he said political contributions are not taxable. Then, he said incomes obtained from abroad are not taxable. So, were the RM4 billion just donations or incomes from abroad, neither of which he can prove?
On July 22, 2020, a month later, High Court judge Ahmad Bache granted a summary judgment for Najib to pay RM1,692,872,924.83 (RM1.69 billion) as claimed by the taxman. Ordering Najib to pay, the judge said – “The principle of revenue law says that when there is a debt due to the government, the court shall not entertain any plea whatsoever.”
Defending the penalty as fair and must be seen as fair to everyone, Judge Bache said last year – “If all other taxpayers are to be imposed with such penalties upon late payment of taxes due, it is only fair that the defendant, who is a former finance minister and former prime minister, be subjected to the same provision of penalty as everyone stands equal before the law.”
The judge also advised Najib to dispute the amount of assessment with the SCIT (Special Commissioners of Income Tax) by filing an appeal. But Najib has already done that. And because the former premier could not wriggle and wiggle out of the SCIT, he deliberately passed the ball to the High Court to try his luck. Even if Judge Ahmad Bache wanted to help, he can’t.
The Special Commissioners of Income Tax (SCIT) is an independent tribunal that consists of panel members appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (King) to handle tax appeals. Hence, the SCIT is no ordinary commission that Najib could intimidate. Even then, payment of tax must be made before you can appeal against an assessment under section 99 of the Income Tax Act 1967.
Obviously, Najib is trapped when Judge Bache cleverly passed back the ball to the SCIT. Essentially, armed with Section 103(1) of the Income Tax Act, the SCIT says that any tax due should be paid on time, whether you are appealing against the tax calculations – hence pay first, talk later. The crook must pay RM1.69 billion first before any negotiation or appeal can even begin.
Of course, the defiant former premier still refused to pay. After the court’s decision on July 22, 2020, Najib immediately went ballistic and took to his Facebook account to express his dissatisfaction. He claimed the lawsuit was an act of oppression espoused by the Pakatan Harapan government against him, despite the fact his party UMNO is already part of the backdoor Perikatan Nasional government.
On February 4, 2021, the Inland Revenue Board finally moved to the next stage, filing a bankruptcy notice against Najib Razak for failing to pay RM1.69 billion in taxes owed. Subsequently, on May 31, Najib’s lawyers applied to strike out the notice. By then, the tax amount has snowballed to RM1.74 billion (approximately RM1,738,804,204.16), thanks to 5% annual interest rate.
This time, the defence lawyers claimed that the bankruptcy notice filed by the IRB on Feb 4 this year was “mala fide”, onerous and an abuse of the court process. Of course, like a broken record, Najib also claimed that the notice was part of a conspiracy to destroy his political career. Laughable, even if his claim was true, it’s Muhyiddin, who wanted to destroy him, the same premier whom Najib has supported.
On June 14), the same High Court Judge Ahmad Bache has again thrown out Najib’s application to temporarily suspend the 2020 court order for him to pay RM1.69 billion in taxes and late payment penalties. The judge said there cannot be “special circumstances” for Najib as the IRB is empowered to collect taxes under the Tax Act 1967.
Besides slapping Najib with additional legal costs of RM15,000, Justice Ahmad Bache also lectured the former prime minister that every taxpayer – including Najib Razak – is equal before the law. He said that if the court had allowed the stay application as desired by Najib, it would set a bad precedent for other taxpayers to avoid paying taxes.
Perhaps someone should tell Najib to stop whining, moaning and bitching. In 2013, when he was still the powerful prime minister, he said tax evaders are traitors. Lecturing people that paying tax was one of the pillars of patriotism, then-PM Najib said – “When we pay taxes, we are helping the people. We instil this spirit; with this, our country will be more successful.”
Like it or not, the Income Tax Act 1967 gives the IRB wide powers to recover both income tax and additional income tax. Now that Najib is powerless and at the receiving end of the law, he can’t selectively claim to be above the law and pretends that the Section 103(1) of the Income Tax Act – “pay first, talk later” – does not apply to him. He must have the balls to face the rule of law.
Crooked Najib had done worse when he abused his power to target his political enemies. For example, Lee Kim Yew, the founder and chairman of Country Heights Holdings Bhd (CHHB), revealed how his personal fixed deposits of about RM126 million placed in a foreign-owned bank was seized by the IRB, all because the tycoon was a loyal friend of Mahathir, mentor-turned-nemesis of Najib.
Even after the boss of Country Heights was forced to pay RM22.7 million, including penalties, to the IRB, Najib was not satisfied. To humiliate Lee Kim Yew for supporting Mahathir’s campaign against Najib, the IRB was also instructed to charge billionaire Lee under AMLA (Anti Money Laundering Act) for trying to launder his “legitimate” money.
Najib can certainly try his luck in the Court of Appeal, which will hear the case on June 16. Still, it’s hard to see how the verdict will be any different. His best bet is to negotiate with the SCIT to pay the RM1.74 billion in instalments, just like everyone else. In reality, he can easily pay off the tax owed, thanks to tens of billions of dollars stashed overseas as a result of decades of corruption.
However, if he pays, it only means he’s indeed a multi-billionaire as suspected and could invite more investigations and charges for tax evasion – or even corruption. But if he doesn’t pay, he will be declared bankrupt and his political career would be over, not to mention all the properties he owns would be auctioned. His pension will be gone too.
As a bankrupt, he cannot contest in the coming 15th General Election, let alone to realise his dream to make a comeback as prime minister again. According to the Income Tax Act of 1967, tax evaders could face fines of RM1,000 to RM20,000 or imprisonment or both, and 300% of tax undercharged. So, Najib should pray that the worst that can hit him is bankruptcy, and not jail time.
We had published in April 2019 that there are many ways to skin a cat. And one of them is using tax evasion against crooks who have tons of money to engage top lawyers to get away from crimes like murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption or other crimes. If a Chicago mobster like Al-Capone can be convicted of tax evasion, so can Najib Razak. – Finance Twitter