Rosmah deserves max 20 years in prison

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While she collected millions in bribes, none of the 369 rural schools in Sarawak received any electricity.

As expected, Malaysia’s most hated woman – Rosmah Mansor – has been found guilty of corruption and was sentenced to 10 years’ jail and fined RM970 million. The almost RM1 billion fine is the largest amount ever imposed in history. If she fails to pay the fine, she will need to serve another 10 years in prison. The court allowed a stay of execution pending an appeal.

High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan on Thursday (Sept 1) delivered the guilty verdict on the 70-year-old self-proclaimed FLOM (First Lady of Malaysia) – 10 years’ jail on each of three corruption charges involving a RM1.25 billion hybrid solar project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak. However, the judge ordered that the prison time run concurrently, which means Rosmah will serve only 10 years in jail.

The jail sentence came just days after her husband, former Prime Minister Najib Razak, lost his final appeal and was jailed for corruption. Unlike her husband’s 1MDB corruption and money laundering scheme which involved three continents, Rosmah’s corruption was simple and straight forward. She had allegedly solicited for herself bribes to the tune of RM187.5 million from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd.

The money was kickbacks for helping Jepak Holdings obtain a RM1.25 billion project, known as Project Bersepadu Sistem Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Hibrid. The project involved installation of solar hybrid systems and for the maintenance and operation of diesel generators for 369 rural schools in Sarawak. Initially, the company failed to obtain the project directly from the Ministry of Education.

The company then approached Rizal Mansor, Rosmah’s former aide, who then arranged a private meeting between Rosmah with Saidi Abang Samsudin, the managing director and majority shareholder of Jepak Holdings. The meeting took place between January and April 2016 and it was held in the privacy of Najib and Rosmah’s private residence at Jalan Langgak Duta, Kuala Lumpur.

Rosmah initially wanted RM200 million kickbacks (17% of the project value) under the pretext of a “political donation”. However, the rate was reduced to 15% (RM187.5 million) on Rizal’s advice. Jepak Holdings was eventually awarded a three-year contract. In January 2017, Najib personally oversaw the contract awarded to Jepak Holdings, leading to the official execution on June 20, 2017.

But the first payment of bribes – RM5 million – was already made earlier on Dec 20, 2016, and the cash was delivered to Rosmah at her official residence in Putrajaya. The second payment of RM1.5 million cash was personally delivered by Jepak Holdings MD Saidi to Auntie Rosie at her private Langgak Duta home on Sept 7, 2017. However, none of the 369 rural schools in Sarawak receive any electricity.

The disgraced couple has created some Malaysian Book of Records – Najib becomes the first former premier to be convicted and sent to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million. He was found guilty on one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), and three counts of money laundering – all involving RM42 million stolen from SRC International Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of 1MDB).

While Rosmah’s jail sentence is two years lesser than her hubby’s, she broke records with her RM970 million fine. Her fine can be calculated based on Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which says one faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

Rosmah has 14 days to file an appeal against her conviction with the Court of Appeal. If her conviction is upheld on appeal, her final recourse would be to appeal to the Federal Court. However, if her husband’s appeal process is any indicator, it would take over two years from the date of conviction at the High Court to the date of the final appeal. However, it could be earlier than that.

Like Najib, Rosmah’s lawyers had tried the same silly tactic – demanding, at the eleventh hour, the presiding judge to recuse himself based on dubious and irrelevant leaked documents. Raja Petra Kamarudin, the disgraced blogger-turn-fugitive paid by Najib, had actually done more damage than good when he released so-called damaging documents to undermine the integrity of the court.

To help his political master in the final appeal, Raja Petra tried to smear the reputation of High Court Judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali with claims that the judge was corrupted and had received RM1 million from 1MDB. Nazlan lodged a police report in April. Stunningly, Najib withdrew his bribery allegations in early August, just a week before Najib’s final appeal.

Besides the wild accusation that Judge Nazlan was tainted with a serious conflict of interest when presiding over the SRC International trial, Najib’s legal eagle had also challenged and demanded – again, at the eleventh hour – Chief Justice Tengku Maimun who led a five-member bench to eject herself. The excuse given was that Maimun’s husband was critical of Najib’s 1MDB corruption.

On both occasions, High Court Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan and Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat rejected Rosmah and Najib’s respective demands. It was nothing by delay tactic to prevent the presiding judges from delivering their verdict. Instead of raising reasonable doubt related to their cases, the defence lawyers chose to attack the judiciary based on Raja Petra’s articles.

Perhaps Najib’s hotshot lawyer Shafee Abdullah and Rosmah’s lead lawyer Jagjit Singh thought there wasn’t any good judge left after 60 years of corrupted Barisan Nasional government. That was why the overrated lawyers spent most of the time cooking dirty tricks to delay their clients’ trials. They knew Najib and Rosmah were as guilty as hell, but played along to earn easy legal fees.

For example, to postpone Rosmah’s trial at the early stage, Jagjit told the court that his client was suffering from “Chronic Adrenal Crisis, Cervical Spondylosis and Osteoarthritis” – sophisticated medical terms for common neck and back pain. In reality, these conditions that most often cause pain and stiffness in the neck affected more than 85% of people over the age of 60 (Rosmah is 70 years old).

For less than RM20, lawyer Jagjit Singh could visit a Guardian pharmacy and buy “Ammeltz Yoko-Yoko” plasters or cream for his client’s so-called life threatening neck and back pain, instead of staging a drama sending Big Mama to court in an ambulance. Rosmah can be assured of its quality and effectiveness because Yoko-Yoko is 100% made and formulated in Japan.

Likewise, Najib’s hotshot lawyer Shafee Abdullah had resorted to cheap tricks of prolonging the SRC International and 1MDB trials. Shafee had claimed that his pet dogs attacked and injured him, while Najib had swollen eyes. In his final appeal, prisoner-in-waiting Najib pretended to sack Shafee and appointed a new team of lawyers, another delay gimmick to stay out of prison.

The best part was when Rosmah shed crocodile tears in front of Judge Mohamed Zaini, begging for mercy, only to turn to her daughter Nooryana Najwa thereafter and smiled as if she had hit a mega millions jackpot. Rosmah’s only comical defence was – “Nobody saw me taking the money, nobody saw me counting the money.”

In retaliation to Jagjit Singh’s attack, Justice Zaini lectured the defence lawyers that the so-called leaked judgement document was not only a draft copy, but it was actually a research document prepared by the “Judicial Administrative Research” – a common practice in countries like the US, Australia, UK, Ireland and Singapore where judicial research assistants write their opinions.

Judge Zaini said – “I have written over 200 judgments to date, all on my own”. He had no plan to allow some rascals turn his court into a circus. The defence’s attempt to intimidate and insult his professionalism only made his job easier. After lunch, he decisively dismissed Rosmah’s application to eject him from presiding her case, and rejected Jagjit’s attempt to stay the decision.

Like a surgical strike, the High Court announced – “The prosecution has succeeded in proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. The accused is therefore guilty of all three charges”. It was only then that the once de-facto PM Rosmah cried and her lawyer – either naive or dumb – profusely asked for a lenient sentence – a day in jail and for the jail time to run concurrently.

The crooked Rosmah appeared happy when she waved to the media before entering her car after the High Court’s decision. She did not demonstrate any distressing emotion, let alone showed any remorse for stealing money meant for poor children living in poverty in 369 rural schools in Sarawak. Like her husband, she has no idea about the hardship on the ground.

Their despicable daughter, Nooryana, who lives a lavish lifestyle thanks to billions stolen by her parents, was mocked on social media after she whined, moaned and bitched that her father would be missing his usual Starbucks. She said on Instagram that she could not face ordering from the chain because she knew her father, stuck in prison, would be missing his caramel macchiato.

The US-DOJ investigation results say that over US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from the 1MDB fund, with some of the money used to finance Hollywood films, and buy hotels, private jet, luxury Equanimity superyacht, Picasso paintings, jewellery and real estate. More than US$700 million (hence the infamous RM2.6 billion) from the fund landed in Najib’s bank account.

On the night of May 17, 2018, police raided three luxury Pavilion Residences condominiums in Kuala Lumpur owned by Najib Razak’s children. Besides RM117 million cash and RM1 billion worth of 12,000 pieces of jewellery, an eye-popping 567 handbags consisted of luxury handbags from 37 different designers – including Chanel, Prada, Hermes and ultra-luxury Bijan – were confiscated.

In his 116-page judgement, Judge Zaini rubbished Rosmah’s earlier lies that she was not in control of the family. Leveraging on the infamous “Can I advise you something” audio clip between Najib and Rosmah that previously went viral, the judge ruled that Rosmah had dominated over her husband, Najib Razak, and had had control over the former prime minister.

Therefore, the High Court ruled that Rizal, Rosmah’s former aide, was telling the truth when he said that the accused had an “overbearing nature” and the ability to influence decisions in the civil service as he had worked with her for many years and would have been able to witness this personally. This means Rosmah had lied when she claimed that she had never interfered in any government project.

In sentencing Rosmah to 10 years’ jail, Judge Zaini warned that corruption must be curtailed before it becomes a pandemic – “Corruption has reached almost every level of society. It must be curtailed before it becomes a pandemic. If corruption is left unbridled, our society will come to accept it as a way of life or business”. The judge might have made a mistake. The Imelda Marcos of Malaysia should be sent to maximum 20 years in prison. – Finance Twitter