No political agenda behind graft charges against Najib, says A-G

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak being greeted by his supporters as he left the court in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Najib pleaded not guilty to four charges levelled against him in relation to funds linked to SRC International, a former subsi
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak being greeted by his supporters as he left the court in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Najib pleaded not guilty to four charges levelled against him in relation to funds linked to SRC International, a former subsidiary of troubled state fund 1MDB, and left after posting part of his bail.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak being greeted by his supporters as he left the court in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Najib pleaded not guilty to four charges levelled against him in relation to funds linked to SRC International, a former subsi
Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who is leading the 12-member prosecution team, speaking to reporters after court yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRES
Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who is leading the 12-member prosecution team, speaking to reporters after court yesterday.
Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor leaving court yesterday. Najib and his supporters see the charges as selective prosecution by the PH government. PHOTO: REUTERS

He promises trial will be fair, says there is strong case against former premier

Malaysia's newly appointed Attorney-General Tommy Thomas has denied that graft charges brought against former prime minister Najib Razak yesterday were politically motivated, and promised the trial would be fair.

"It doesn't matter who the personality is," Mr Thomas told reporters after the proceeding.

"We have reached a conclusion that there is a strong prima facie case which we intend to prove at the trial. We accept that he is innocent until proven guilty, we did not object to bail... Once the court fixed RM1 million (S$337,000), we did not object to it being paid on two days. We are very fair," he said.

He was responding to claims by Najib and his supporters that the court charges were selective pro-secution by the Pakatan Harapan government.

Najib told the Malaysiakini news site last week that he feared the new government led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who had blamed him for 1Malaysia Development Berhad's (1MDB) financial troubles, had placed itself in a position where it would have no choice but to arrest and charge him.

"This situation and what they have said before means that the new government simply has no choice but to eventually arrest or charge me, even though I did not steal. I maintain that I am innocent as I am not a thief," he said in the interview published on Tuesday.

  • THE CHARGES

  • Najib Razak faces three charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and one charge of bribery. All four charges relate to payments allegedly received by him from SRC International, a former subsidiary of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

    The payments first came to light in July 2015, when The Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report reported that SRC had transferred RM42 million (S$14.2 million) into Najib's personal bank accounts. The fund transfers were inadvertently confirmed by former attorney-general Apandi Ali in January 2016 during his press conference to announce there was no evidence to charge then Prime Minister Najib for another US$681 million (S$928 million) found in his bank accounts.

    Tan Sri Apandi displayed charts showing fund flows from SRC to several private accounts at a unit of AmBank, via subsidiaries of construction company Putrajaya Perdana.

    According to business weekly The Edge, the charts showed payments of RM27 million, RM10 million and RM5 million to bank accounts allegedly belonging to Najib, between July 2014 and February 2015. Here is a summary of the charges:

    1. Najib is accused of committing CBT with RM27 million belonging to SRC between Dec 24 and 29, 2014, at an AmBank unit in Kuala Lumpur.

    The offence under Section 409 of the Penal Code is punishable by imprisonment of no less than two years and up to 20 years, whipping and a fine.

    2. He is accused of committing CBT with RM5 million belonging to SRC between Dec 24 and 29, 2014, at AmBank.

    The offence under Section 409 of the Penal Code is punishable by imprisonment of no less than two years and up to 20 years, whipping and a fine.

    3. He is accused of committing CBT with RM10 million belonging to SRC between Feb 10 and March 2, 2015, at AmBank. The offence under Section 409 of the Penal Code is punishable by jail of no less than two years and up to 20 years, whipping and a fine.

    4. He is accused of receiving a RM42 million bribe for misusing his position as prime minister and finance minister between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 8, 2012, when the government decided to guarantee RM4 billion in loans from the Retirement Fund (Incorporated) to SRC. The offence under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 is punishable with jail of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the bribe value.

In court yesterday, Najib pleaded not guilty to four charges levelled against him in relation to funds linked to SRC International, a former subsidiary of troubled state fund 1MDB.

Mr Thomas, calling the charges "the fruits of investigation", did not discount the possibility of more charges being levelled based on subsequent investigation papers (IPs) as the authorities probe further into the scandal.

"This case arises from the first MACC IP that was given to my office three weeks ago," he said, referring to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. "This is the fruits of that investigation. No doubt there will be more IPs."

The court set the bail and asked Najib to surrender his two diplomatic passports. He left the court after posting bail, vowing to clear his name.

Mr Thomas, who is leading the 12-member prosecution team, had earlier requested that bail be set at RM4 million in a cash bond with two sureties.

Asked about a statement on Tuesday by the Bar Council - the main body for local lawyers - that the 1MDB task force had no legal standing to arrest Najib on Tuesday, Mr Thomas said it was the MACC that conducted the probe and detained the former premier.

Najib yesterday appeared at the court wearing a suit and tie, raising questions among some Malaysians about why he was not in the MACC's infamous orange lock-up T-shirt.

The orange uniform is, however, used only when a suspect is being remanded for investigation, The Star reported.

Najib was held overnight at the MACC, but he was immediately charged a day later.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2018, with the headline 'No political agenda behind graft charges against Najib, says A-G'. Print Edition | Subscribe