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PUTRAJAYA, April 15 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak “shot himself in the foot” after the testimony of his own defence witness fortified the prosecution’s case against him in the misappropriation of RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd, prosecutors told the Court of Appeal today.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the third defence witness (DW3), conceded that Najib’s justification for a national interest project cannot be the basis for a Government Guarantee (GGs) provided to a newly formed company with no existing track record.
SRC International previously obtained two loans totalling RM4 billion from the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) through two GGs that Najib had signed off on as prime minister and finance minister during two Cabinet meetings held in August 2011 and February 2012.
“The appellant attempted to rely on the evidence of DW3 for the principal consideration in granting the GGs to SRC, which the defence contended was not SRC’s ability to repay the loan but rather the services to be provided by SRC in line with national interest.
“But this attempt failed as DW3 was clear that whether it is a newly formed government-linked company or not, the ability to repay the loan was the prime consideration,” he said.
Submitting further, Sithambaram cited Mohd Irwan’s testimony and read out the court transcript where the latter affirmed that it took an average of between a month to three months to conduct feasibility studies yet only took a day or two to consider the GGs applications from SRC International.
“It is because of the appellant’s influence and no other earthly reason. The reckless and careless manner in which the GG was rushed and approved shows scant regard for KWAP’s pension funds by the appellant as the prime minister and finance minister.
“The prosecution submits that the testimony of DW3 was based on facts within his personal knowledge, experience and expertise unique to him as a high-ranking civil servant at the MOF.
“DW3 gave his view on matters which the appellant chose to elicit from him but it had a damning effect on the appellant’s case.
“So My Lord, the evidence supported the prosecution case,” he said.
Sithambaram said Mohd Irwan testified that the Finance Ministry (MOF) would conduct detailed analysis in considering a GG for any company under normal circumstances.
However, no evidence whatsoever was presented by the defence of any analysis being conducted by MOF, of which Najib was then the finance minister, in consideration of the GGs application for SRC International throughout the trial.
On the contrary, Sithambaram said MOF was rushed to prepare the Cabinet papers for the GGs without being able to verify any of the information provided by representatives of SRC International since Najib himself had intervened and ordered for the process to be expedited.
Thus, Mohd Irwan’s evidence corroborated with testimonies provided by two prosecution witnesses employed within the MOF in that they were pressured in their duties to hasten the guarantee application process.
Sithambaram said Najib had attempted to qualify and limit DW3’s clear and unequivocal evidence as stated because Irwan’s testimony revealed the truth of how GGs are considered and approved by the MOF in normal cases.
“It is absurd for the appellant to argue that just because it is a newly formed government-linked or Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc) company, the national interest should override the ability to repay the loan and stay solvent.
“It would be absurd to argue that the government should provide GGs to companies that are bound to fail,” he said.
Sithambaram said it was an undisputed fact that SRC International has nothing to show to date for the RM4 billion capital in terms of the energy sector investments for which it was established except for the debt generated to the federal government.
“The appellant backing SRC for a loan from KWAP with GGs, when SRC had not invested in any energy venture in 2011 and 2012 until 2018 when the appellant left office shows the loan was not for the intended purpose of strategic energy resource development in the national interest.
“Ultimately, the appellant had abused his position to secure the loan from KWAP and issuance of the GG for his benefit.
“The appellant did not give a single piece of evidence to show how the loan and GG contributed to the strategic energy resource development in Malaysia,” he added.
Najib’s disinterest in what transpired with RM4b SRC funds
Sithambaram also submitted that Najib’s evidence as to the utilisation of the RM4 billion loan by SRC International showed that he was not interested in what happened to the funds SRC International received after some six years also begged the question of whether the funds’ intended energy security use.
He said this was affirmed in Najib’s own testimony, where Najib became indifferent and failed to inquire of the funds despite actively involved in ensuring the KWAP funds were made available to SRC International through the approved GGs.
“Why is that so? There is only one answer to this that the appellant having acquired his premeditated plan to obtain RM4 billion loan for SRC took no interest, except that RM42 million of the SRC funds went into the appellant’s account and some RM3 billion went to a Swiss Bank account.
“So I submit My Lord, the defence that is of national interest cannot by any stretch of imagination support the facts of the case.
“In fact, it looks more like a scam,” he said.
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 resumes Monday, April 19.