June 15, 2024

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Najib’s Arab donation story surpasses the Arabian Nights – Judge

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PUTRAJAYA, Dec 10 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s defense that the RM42 million in his personal accounts were part of Arab donation monies was described as a tale that surpassed those from the 1001 Arabian Nights.

In fact, in a full 308-page grounds of written judgment, Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil said the Arab donation story was nothing but a concoction that was completely bereft of credibility.

“This tale that surpassed even those from the Arabian Nights, not only lacked credibility but was contradicted and dispelled by the documentary evidence,” said Justice Abdul Karim.

Justice Abdul Karim, who sat with Justices Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, ruled that there was no evidence at all that the RM42 million came from, or could have come from the Saudi monarch, nor is there any reasonable basis for the appellant to have formed that belief.

“The funds came from SRC International Sdn Bhd, and that is well established. The appellant (Najib) claimed that he had assumed that the funds that came into his accounts were donations from the Saudi Royal family.”

“In support of this, reference was made to some Arab letters which were purportedly written by one Prince Saudi Abdulaziz Al-Saud on behalf of the King of Saudi Arabia.”

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“However, neither the maker was called nor the authenticity of these letters established at trial. The contents of the letters were inadmissible hearsay,” the judge said.

Regarding the two press statements by then former Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali in 2016 which contended that Najib was not involved in any criminal activity in the SRC International and its funds as well as RM2.6 billion donation cases, the judge said the following:

“It is worth noting that even after the two press releases, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) did continue to investigate the purported source of funds from Saudi Arabia and to ascertain if the RM2.6 billion that came into the appellant’s account was a donation.”

“MACC officers went to Saudi Arabia to investigate the matter but failed to get any confirmation from the purported Arab donor in the form of admissible evidence.”

“Therefore, Mohamed Apandi’s press statements cannot be held to exonerate Najib of wrongdoing, no can it be evidence of wrongful prosecution. Mohamed Apandi’s opinion, which he stated during the press conference, was in respect of the state of affairs as of Jan 26, 2016, while the investigations were ongoing.”

“Surely, that premature statement cannot bind a future AG from exercising his prosecutorial powers when additional evidence is collected,” Justice Abdul Karim said.

The judge also said, Najib did not take any steps to investigate the flow of funds into his accounts, but seemed to have placed reliance on what fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low had told him as to the source of the funds and nothing else.

“He was sitting Prime Minister at the material time and he had every opportunity, including official government channels, to make inquiries and confirm if indeed the funds came from the Saudi monarch. Not a single step was taken by the appellant to ascertain or verify the truth of the source as intimated to him by Jho Low, allegedly.”

“This is classic willful blindness. In this regard, we agree with learned trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, that the appellant’s contention that he had justifiable reasons not to suspect anything untoward in the flow of the RM42 million into his accounts is simply flawed,” he said.

Yesterday, the three judges unanimously upheld the conviction and 12 years’ jail sentence, and RM210 million fine on Najib for misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds.

The trio dismissed Najib’s appeal to set aside the conviction and sentence imposed by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on July 28, 2020.

NMT as reported by Bernama