Malaysian court says Najib's conduct not in 'national interests'

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Malaysia’s Court of Appeal said the conduct of former prime minister Najib Razak with regards to SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB, was not done for national interest as he had claimed.

Justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who chaired a three-man panel, said Najib in his defence, had claimed as such.

However, he said Najib’s conduct indicated he wanted the funds secured by SRC, a company which he has overarching control of, to use for his personal benefit.

“This is not something that can be said to be done in national interest. There is no national interest here,” the judge said, reading from the decision in Najib’s appeal against his conviction and sentence in the SRC case.

Justice Abdul Karim also said the three-member bench agrees that Najib’s claim, that the funds in his account were donations from Saudi Arabia, has no credibility.  He said the evidence shows that Najib misappropriated the money for personal benefits and political purposes instead of his claim that he used it for SRC, a subsidiary of Malaysian investment vehicle 1MDB.

The Court of Appeal is set to deliver its verdict on Najib’s appeal over his 12-year jail sentence and a fine of RM210 million (S$68 million) for misappropriating RM42 million in funds.

The decision is scheduled to be delivered online on Wednesday (Dec 8) morning, after the former prime minister and his defence counsel team were casual contacts to senior counsel Shafee Abdullah’s son, Mr Muhammad Farhan, who tested positive for Covid-19 and is also part of the legal team.

The prosecution team, led by deputy public prosecutor V. Sithambaram, arrived at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya at 8.43am, and would be present in open court proceedings.

Najib, 68, filed an appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision on July 28 last year, which sentenced him to 10 years’ jail on each of three criminal breach of trust (CBT) cases and each of the three cases of money laundering, and 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine – in default, five years’ jail – in the case of abuse of position, involving SRC International (SRC) funds totalling RM42 million.

However, Najib will serve only 12 years in jail, as High Court Judge Nazlan Ghazali ordered all the jail sentences to run concurrently.

The court allowed the Pekan MP’s application for a stay of execution of the jail sentence and fine, pending his appeal.

With regard to the CBT charges, Najib, as a public servant and agent, namely prime minister and finance minister of Malaysia, and advisor emeritus of SRC, allegedly misappropriated RM27 million and RM5 million, respectively, of RM4 billion belonging to SRC.

He was charged with committing the two offences at AmIslamic Bank Berhad, Ambank in Kuala Lumpur between Dec 24 and 29, 2014.

On the third count, Najib allegedly misappropriated another RM10 million of RM4 billion belonging to SRC at the same place between Feb 10, 2015, and March 2, 2015.

The three charges are framed under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years, with whipping and a fine upon conviction.

Malaysian daily The Star reported that security was tight at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya on Wednesday morning before the Court of Appeal was expected to deliver its verdict on Najib’s appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Outside the court in Malaysia’s administrative capital, barricades into the Palace of Justice have been set up, with only registered media personnel allowed to enter.

Police were also seen guarding the entry into the Palace of Justice. Media personnel had been on standby as early as 7.30am.

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Former Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam was seen together with a small group of supporters dressed in white standing in solidarity with the embattled former prime minister.

Najib and his defence team are expected to appear via Zoom.

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