SRC trial: Najib’s lawyer says defence effort hampered by complexities caused by circumstances, personalities involved

Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 4, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 4, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — At the end of submissions for Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s corruption trial involving RM42 million in alleged SRC International Sdn Bhd funds, his lead defence counsel said their case was hamstrung by circumstances surrounding the allegations and the number of personalities involved.

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah also claimed the complexity of the case was worsened by the defence’s assertion that Najib was tricked and misled by those around him.

He argued that despite the prosecution’s insistence that Najib — as the prime minister and finance minister at the material time — should know the state of his finances, the matter was not as clear cut as his opposition alleged.

“I must say that the truth of the matter in our defence is, it has become complicated for us to produce the best defence possible. 

“Namely because, our defence, which is a defence stating the truth, that Datuk Seri Najib himself is a victim of scam and series of misrepresentations by the likes of Jho Low (Low Taek Jho) and Nik Faisal (Ariff Kamil) and a bunch or rogue bankers like Joanna Yu and other senior management of SRC,” Shafee said during his submission this morning. 

“Assuming the defence is true, it is extremely cumbersome and a difficult defence, because he is surrounded by the people who committed the scam where he himself is a victim,” he added. 

Shafee also sought to dispute that the RM42 million was a form of gratification by pointing out that some deposits were made to Najib’s accounts in 2011 and over three years after the latter’s involvement in the approval of RM2 billion in Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) loans to SRC International.

Shafee asserted that this 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 RM42m; 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’?” Shafee submitted. 

The lawyer then contended that SRC International’s practice of maintaining two groups of authorised signatories meant it was possible that one was ignorant of the other’s existence and actions related to the company’s finances.

He highlighted that the first group of SRC’s authorised signatories included 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and its chief financial officer Radhi Mohamad, while another included Low, the financier’s supposed associate Terrence Geh, and SRC International’s then-chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.

Shafee sought to support this point by reminding the court that former SRC International chairman Tan Sri Ismee Ismail and director Datuk Suboh Md Yassin had both testified to their ignorance about the arrangement.

“They opened an account, the board of directors do not know; as a board (they) do not know.

“The question mark is, how could this happen? Surely that could not happen with the cognisance of the prime minister. 

“That is very serious... something not right in this case,” said Shafee. 

Submissions before High Court Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resume in the afternoon.

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