Stumbling for answers at SRC trial, Najib tries but fails to get pointers from own lawyers

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on January 23, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on January 23, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was momentarily cornered during his RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd trial today when he could not provide a straight answer to ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram.

When referring to documentary exhibits related to his request to send back some US$620 million (RM2.2 billion) to supposed Middle Eastern donors, Najib was asked to explain his previously stated concern about the authenticity of his signature on the documents.

When cross-examining Najib, Sithambaram asked why the former PM expressed doubt about his own signatures before when he could readily do so with the same documents during today’s proceedings.

Sithambaram: Why, at the close of the prosecutions’ case, you fought these documents, that you did not sign them, but now you conveniently explained. Why did you say today that you signed the documents?

Najib: I have to get back to you, I don’t have a proper explanation.

Sithambaram then reminded Najib how he was being cross-examined and, as such, was not allowed to consult with his lawyers until the close of the prosecution’s questioning.

Sithambaram: Sir, you cannot do that. When you're in the stand, you cannot refer to your lawyers. You are not supposed to even speak with them.

Najib: I need to check because I am not sure.

Sithambaram: No, sir, you cannot do that. You can either agree or disagree.

When pressed, Najib resorted to saying, “I don't know about this.”

Sithambaram then moved on with his questions.

Shortly after, however, Najib again sought to consult his lawyers over whether he had expressed doubt over the authenticity of several signed documents before the trial began last year.

Sithambaram: This exhibit P277, the document was served to you before trial, and you did not raise issues, you agree or disagree?

Najib: I have to check with my lawyer

Sithambaram: All I am saying is, this is already in evidence, when it was served there was no police report or anything of such made.

Najib: Yes, probably, but I need to confirm that

Sithambaram: Do you agree with it or disagree?

Najib: I will check on that, I do not remember.

Arab ‘donations’

Sithambaram zeroed in today on Najib’s defence that money he spent during the material time were donations from the Saudi royal family, asking if any of these members of royalty would be able to present themselves in court to support the claim.

Najib previously stated and subsequently maintained that he was under the impression that funds allegedly funnelled from SRC International into his personal bank accounts were political donations from the Saudi royal family.

Najib continues to insist that the purported donations in excess of US$800 million (RM2.6 billion) were meant to bolster his administration’s role of leading a moderate Muslim nation, under the endorsement of King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

Sithambaram then suggested that Najib knew all along that he had spent misappropriated funds, to which the latter disagreed.

Sithambaram: From day one the monies from 2011 to 2014, all the four tranches that came to you, you knew all these monies never originated from the Saudi Royal family.

Najib: I disagree because it came from their Ministry of Finance.

Sithambaram: No member of the Saudi Royal family can come and confirm that, will you be producing any of them to come to court?

Najib: We have not (managed), it’s difficult to get them to come to court.

Sithambaram: I put it to you that it is for mere convenience not to make them come to court to maintain your story.

Najib: I disagree.

Najib has been called to enter his defence to answer seven charges related to SRC International.

Three are for criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, three more are for laundering the RM42 million, and the last is for abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same sum.

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