PUTRAJAYA : Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s refusal to allow a government delegation to verify the status of some RM3.6 billion belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds frozen in Switzerland was highly questionable and implied a personal interest within the firm, the Court of Appeal heard today (April 14).
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said this in rebuttal to Najib’s appeal hearing against his conviction and jail sentence for misappropriating RM42 million belonging to SRC International.
Sithambaram cited the evidence by former second finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, who was the 56th prosecution witness (PW56), as proof of Najib’s unwillingness to allow anyone to get involved with SRC International’s funds that had been frozen by Swiss authorities for alleged money-laundering offences in 2013.
Ahmad Husni previously testified that he met with Najib and sought the latter’s permission to bring a delegation comprised of the Finance Ministry, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to clarify the matter with the Swiss authorities between 2015 and 2016.
SRC International previously obtained two loans totalling RM4 billion from KWAP through two Government Guarantees that Najib had signed off as prime minister and finance minister during two Cabinet meetings held in August 2011 and February 2012.
“The evasive answers of the appellant [during cross-examination] show the appellant did not want anyone to get involved in the frozen SRC funds in Switzerland.
“In fact that is the only inference that can be drawn. All these lame excuses implies he has personal interest,” he added.
Earlier, Sithambaram read out the High Court transcript during the trial’s cross-examination as proof of Najib’s unwillingness to allow anyone to get involved and his subsequent failure to resolve the matter until he left public office in May 2018.
In the transcript that was recorded between Najib and Sithambaram, Najib was quoted as saying he wanted Ahmad Husni to come up with a “proper plan” for the proposed repatriation of the frozen funds back to Malaysia, in justifying the refusal given.
“The reasoning stated by the appellant for the above is that PW56 had apparently failed to prepare a formal plan to be discussed by the Cabinet.
“The learned judge found that even if PW56 did not have a plan, the appellant himself did not suggest a plan nor did he formulate one.
“Instead, he just left the matter to the SRC International Board of Directors (BOD) to resolve. We add that SRC’s BOD had failed to repatriate the SRC funds since 2012, more than three years [after Husni’s suggestion].
“Even though the appellant did agree that a government to government forum would be ideal, there is no evidence of this being undertaken during his tenure as the prime minister.
“The appellant did not himself personally travel to Switzerland to repatriate the funds to Malaysia,” Sithambaram said in his submission.
He also told the court that the second finance minister had similar authority of supervision over all companies owned by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc) and in pursuance of the Ministerial Functions Order which Najib had denied Ahmad Husni in doing so at the material time.
Sithambaram further submitted that Najib’s wish of wanting a proper plan but not even suggesting one to Ahmad Husni seemed absurd since it was Najib himself who was instrumental in securing the RM4 billion loan to SRC International and the Government Guarantees which resulted in RM3.6 billion funds ending up in Switzerland.
In the RM42 million SRC International case, Najib was sentenced to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of CBT and each of the three counts of money laundering, and 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine, in default five years’ jail, in the case of abuse of position on July 28 last year.
However, Najib will only serve 12 years in jail as the judge ordered all the jail sentences to run concurrently.
The appeal hearing before Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil who chaired a three-member panel alongside Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera resumes tomorrow.
By : KENNETH TEE – MALAY MAIL