No issue of lapsed time in filing gratification charges in SRC trial, prosecution tells Najib’s defence

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 4, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 4, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — The prosecution in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s SRC International RM42 million funds corruption trial told the High Court today that there was no lapse of time in bringing charges against a person accused of obtaining gratification through public office.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said this in response to Najib’s defence questioning the lapse of roughly three years between the dates of the Cabinet meetings to approve the government guarantees for the RM4 billion loans for the company and the dates of the RM42 million from SRC International entering Najib’s accounts.

“Datuk Seri’s argument was that he could not have contemplated, at the time he presided over the Cabinet meetings, that as a result of that action, he would receive the gratification some three years later.

“We submitted that when the monies are finally given to SRC International which Datuk Seri had an interest, it could be siphoned off at any time when the need arose as Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil was a director and also a signatory of SRC International’s bank account,” Sithambaram said in his reply.

Muhammad Shafee had earlier asserted in court that deposits were made to Najib’s accounts in 2011 and over the span of three years after the latter’s involvement in the approval of RM2 billion in Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) loans to SRC International was inconsistent with typical behaviour in other cases of corruption and said it did not make sense for the gratification to be delayed so long.

“The most powerful man in the country is accused of wanting gratification, corrupt gratification, and he would help SRC (International) to get the small amount and for that, he would be rewarded RM42 million; the deal was made today.

“I want to ask this question, wouldn’t the most powerful man, if he was like that, namely corrupt in that sense, wouldn’t he say, ‘Look, I’m giving you RM4 billion, you better give me the RM42 million upfront or even a day or two before this thing is done’?” Muhammad Shafee said.

Sithambaram argued that the three-year lapse is irrelevant if a nexus between the acts of Najib in chairing the Cabinet meeting as well as the latter’s prior action could be proven.

The said actions included the establishment of SRC International, the approval of the loans to SRC by KWAP and the preparation of the Cabinet Papers to approve the government guarantees to SRC International.

“If that nexus and connection is established, Najib can be held to have committed the offence under Section 23 MACC Act, notwithstanding the lapse of time of three years,” he added.

Sithambaram urged the court to consider the series of events from the incorporation of SRC International to the point the RM42 million was credited and utilised by Najib to his personal advantage as a single transaction.

“It is submitted that this was a premeditated and deliberate scheme by Najib to commit a corrupt act with financial gratification foremost in his mind.

“From the series of events which form a single transaction, it can be inferred that when Najib caused the approval of the two government guarantees in favour of SRC International, he did so with the intent of eventually receiving gratification,” he said.

Of the seven charges he was asked to enter his defence, Najib is accused of committing three counts of 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, and a separate charge of abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same sum.

For the remaining three charges, the Pekan MP is accused of laundering RM42 million.

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