SRC appeal: Prosecutor calls Najib’s purported letters on ‘Arab donation’ classic example of documentary hearsay

PUTRAJAYA : The four purported Arab letters that Datuk Seri Najib Razak kept to indicate his belief in impending “donations” into his personal bank accounts were a classic example of documentary hearsay, the Court of Appeal heard today (April 21).

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said this during the prosecution’s rebuttal in Najib’s appeal hearing against the former prime minister’s conviction and jail sentence for the misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.

Citing the inadmissibility of the aforementioned letters, Sithambaram said this was because the defence failed to prove the truth of their content and authenticity.

“The respondent submits that the Arab letters are a classic example of documentary hearsay as the appellant has failed to prove they are admissible as evidence to the truth of its contents.

“The appellant has failed to prove the circumstances of how the Arab letters were prepared and who in fact prepared and signed them,” he said in his submission.

Since the identity of the signatory remains unproven as no evidence was produced to corroborate their identity and whether they actually signed them, Sithambaram said in such circumstances, the Arab letters cannot be admitted to establish the truth of its contents.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya April 6, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya April 6, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Apart from their undetermined nature, the trial judge had also pointed out discrepancies with the letters when considered against the totality of the evidence submitted by the defence.

Among the problems raised were that the letters were not signed by then Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah but by “Prince Saud Abdulaziz Majid Al-Saud’“, which he said ought to have prompted Najib to make inquiries.

Furthermore, the letters did not express that Prince Saud, which Najib was not acquainted with, was writing on behalf of the King which should have compelled the former prime minister to make inquiries which he failed to do so.

The letters also took great pains to emphasise that the gifts, which Sithambaram said constituted stupendously large amounts of money, should not be construed as corruption and should have aroused Najib’s suspicion to consult the authorities but subsequently failed to do so.

“The learned judge further found that the Arab letters does not prove the appellant’s belief of the Arab donation but rather shows that the appellant’s defence of Arab donation was contrived as an afterthought.

“Based on the above circumstances, the learned judge rightly decided that the entire narrative of the Arab donations was a weak fabrication and self-serving evidence.

“Thus, the appellant’s contention that his belief of the Arab donations in his accounts cannot hold water,” Sithambaram said.

Submitting further, Sithambaram said the veracity of contents in the four Arab letters was solely within Najib’s knowledge and the evidential burden to prove the truthfulness was consequently on Najib.

“It is not for the respondent to rebut the contents of the four Arab letters or their truthfulness, which in any event has been rebutted by the appellant’s own evidence,” he said.

Going further, Sithambaram said the fourth Arab letter on £50 million entering Najib’s bank accounts cannot be a donation as claimed.

“If indeed it was an Arab donation, why would they promise £50 million but only contribute £10 million (RM49 million) to the account of the appellant?

“Why are the donors owing £40 million to the appellant? There is no explanation.

“The fact was that the monies needed for his overdrawn account would arrive exactly when it was required showed that this was an orchestrated credit of funds into the appellant’s account.

“The fact that he was short-changed of almost £40 million did not faze him as long as the funds he needed would arrive exactly when it was required,” he said.

Sithambaram also said there was no likelihood that the purported Arab donors would be so kind and willing to transfer funds into Najib’s personal accounts exactly when he needed them.

“It looks like the Arab royalty was on standby to fund the appellant when he needed the same!

“The only inference that can be drawn is Jho Low was arranging the funds for the appellant as requested with the assistance of Datuk Azlin and Nik Faisal,” he said, in reference to Najib’s former principal private secretary Azlin Alias and former SRC International chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.

In the RM42 million SRC International case, Najib was sentenced by the High Court 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 which he is now appealing against.

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 continues.

By : KENNETH TEE – MALAY MAIL

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