SRC trial: Court to decide on Najib's defence on Nov 11

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arriving at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday. In the second trial due to begin today, he faces 25 charges of abuse of power for receiving illegal transfers.
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arriving at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday. In the second trial due to begin today, he faces 25 charges of abuse of power for receiving illegal transfers.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

It will assess if ex-PM has case to answer; he faces second trial, involving 1MDB, from today

Former premier Najib Razak's first trial for corruption in the misappropriation of RM42 million (S$13.9 million) from a former subsidiary of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) concluded yesterday, with the High Court to decide on Nov 11 if he has a case to answer.

The stage is now set for Najib's second trial, involving 1MDB itself, starting today.

In the earlier trial, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas wrapped up the prosecution's case following the cross-examination of the 57th and final witness, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Rosli Hussain.

Najib, 66, faced six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International.

SRC, a former unit of 1MDB, had received RM4 billion in loans from the civil servant pension fund, KWAP. The loans were guaranteed by the Finance Ministry, when Najib was the minister.

Of this, RM42 million was channelled into Najib's personal accounts, and the prosecution described how the money was used for private spending, including the purchase of designer items and luxury jewellery, and hotel stays.

For the defence, counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah produced two media releases from 2016 by former attorney-general Apandi Ali which cleared Najib of wrongdoing regarding RM2.6 billion channelled into his and SRC's bank accounts purportedly received from the Saudi Arabian government.

Tan Sri Apandi had said there was "no evidence" Najib had abused his position to obtain the funds.

But when examined by Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhaimi Ibrahim, Mr Rosli told the court that an oversight committee in the MACC had insisted Mr Apandi review his decision to exonerate Najib.

"We were confident that Najib had committed the offences that MACC investigated," said Mr Rosli.

 
 
 

The court also heard that besides Najib, the MACC had planned to charge three others - SRC International chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, Ihsan Perdana (IPSB) managing director Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman and IPSB finance director Abdul Aziz Ismail. IPSB is the corporate social responsibility unit of SRC.

If Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali decides Najib must mount his case, the defence trial will run from Dec 3 to Dec 19.

During the trial, Tan Sri Shafee also attempted to get Mr Rosli to agree that a slain deputy public prosecutor had not been murdered because of his involvement in investigating SRC International and 1MDB.

Mr Shafee asked Mr Rosli to confirm that the "rumours" linking Mr Anthony Kevin Morais' murder to the investigations were lies, to which prosecutor V. Sithambaram objected, saying that it had nothing to do with the trial.

"Because there is no gag order… my client is being linked to Kevin Morais' murder," Mr Shafee told the court.

"My client not only wants to be acquitted but he wants to look whiter than white."

Among the highlights of the SRC trial were the revelations of the amount of power Najib wielded as prime minister of Malaysia.

In the second trial due to begin today, Najib is facing 25 charges of abuse of power for receiving illegal transfers totalling about RM2.3 billion between 2011 and 2014.

Najib has maintained that he is innocent and dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

To date, 1MDB has been probed by 10 countries, including Singapore, for alleged money laundering and graft. The United States Department of Justice has said that about US$4.5 billion (S$6.3 billion) was misappropriated from the state investment firm.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2019, with the headline 'SRC trial: Court to decide on Najib's defence on Nov 11'. Print Edition | Subscribe