Najib’s SRC appeal: Defence highlights inadmissibility of yet another prosecution witness’ testimony linking RM42m funds to former PM

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya April 7, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya April 7, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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PUTRAJAYA, April 7 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lead defence highlighted today the apparent inadmissibility of yet another prosecution witness’ testimony on the grounds of hearsay that had linked the RM42 million transacted out of SRC International Sdn Bhd with instructions from Najib, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh said this during submission in Najib’s appeal hearing against the former prime minister’s conviction and jail sentence for the misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International funds.

Harvinderjit said the disputed testimony concerned the 49th prosecution witness (PW49), former Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M) chief executive Ung Su Ling.

Ung had testified that she had received instructions from Najib’s former principal private secretary, Datuk Seri Azlin Alias, to coordinate the transfer of RM42 million to Najib’s bank accounts for corporate social responsibility (CSR) purposes between December 2014 and February 2015.

Harvin further argued that the alleged December 2014 and February 2015 instructions to Ung from Azlin purportedly via a WhatsApp message were not produced in court as evidence, as Ung had admitted to having disposed of the phone where it had been stored.

“Neither the primary document (phone device) nor any form of acceptable secondary evidence was produced,” he said.

He also disputed Ung’s witness statement in which she said that she had been told by Azlin in a September 2014 meeting that there would be monies transferred to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd (IPSB), which the prosecution had relied on for the contents of the WhatsApp conversation.

IPSB was the CSR arm of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Contending further, Harvinderjit said trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali relied on Ung’s evidence on her conversation with Azlin to link Najib to the charges arraigned against him.

This follows an earlier submission by Najib’s defence lawyer in the appeal hearing yesterday disputing the testimony of one of the trial’s key prosecution witnesses, former SRC International director Datuk Suboh Md Yassin (PW42).

In the submission, it was argued that the trial judge had failed to conduct a maximum evaluation of PW42’s inconsistent testimony throughout the trial.

Ung’s testimony

Ung had in July 2019 during the trial testified that Azlin had instructed her to inform lPSB to transfer RM42 million into Najib’s bank account in December 2014 and February 2015.

At the time of the transfers, Azlin and Najib both sat on YR1M’s board of trustees along with former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamarudin and special officer at the Prime Minister’s Office, Datuk Wan Shihab Wan Ismail.

She told the court that the three fund transfers into Najib’s accounts CSR purposes were made in tranches of RM27 million, RM5 million and RM10 million which amounted to the aforementioned RM42 million misappropriated by Najib.

In her testimony, she said she did not know who was the owner of the two AmPrivate Banking-MY accounts she was instructed to make the fund transfers by Azlin, but was later revealed in court through bank documents and other witnesses as bank accounts registered under Najib.

Subsequent to the transfers, Ung also said that all messages between her and Azlin were deleted after he had passed away in a helicopter in April 2015.

She also affirmed that she disposed of the mobile device soon after.

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 continues.

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