Appellate court says only saw ‘national embarrassment’ in Najib’s conduct over SRC International funds

Members of media and supporters of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak are seen at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya December 8, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Members of media and supporters of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak are seen at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya December 8, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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PUTRAJAYA, Dec 8 — The Court of Appeal today dismissed Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s conduct over SRC International Sdn Bhd as a “national embarrassment” rather than acts of national interest, as the former prime minister’s lawyers tried to claim.

In delivering the unanimous decision rejecting Najib’s appeal against his conviction and sentence for misappropriating RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, Justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil said Najib did not take interest in a RM4 billion loan to the former 1MDB unit once this had been disbursed

Abdul Karim further said Najib had even ordered then second finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah to lay off SRC International’s matters when the latter had requested to intervene personally over fears of mismanagement.

“This conduct of the appellant can be indicative of only one thing, and that is, once the funds have been secured by SRC, over which the appellant had overarching control, he was free to utilise them for his personal benefit.

“This is manifested by the flow of the RM42 million into his personal accounts. This is not something that can be said to have done in the national interest.

“There is no national interest here, just a national embarrassment,” the senior judge said in affirming the High Court’s ruling to convict Najib on all seven charges relating to SRC’s RM42 million.

In any case, the appellate court rightly pointed out that it would be rather absurd for the government to guarantee a loan to a government-linked corporate body knowing well that the corporate body does not have the ability to repay the loan serviced or interest. 

“Certainly, it would not be in the national interest to have a stable of insolvent companies, with full government exposure to the loans taken by these companies. 

“That is simply bad financial management of public funds,” Abdul Karim added.

The appellate court also noted that Najib had been instrumental and active in ensuring SRC International obtained a RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund (Incorporated) (KWAP) in 2011 and 2012.

Najib was both prime minister and finance minister at the material time where he had obtained the Cabinet’s approval for the disbursement of the loan from KWAP to SRC International.

“The involvement of the appellant in this criminal enterprise can be seen right from the incorporation of SRC, to the approval of KWAP loans, which were secured by government guarantees in which the appellant was involved in the approval, right up to the time a part of the SRC funds amounting to RM42 million was deposited into the appellant’s bank accounts for his personal interest and benefit,” Abdul Karim added.

The bench then concluded that the learned trial judge was entirely correct in finding that the prosecution had proved the charge under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act (for abuse of power) beyond reasonable doubt. 

“The prosecution had established a prima facie case and the defence case was fully considered by the learned trial judge.

“In the end the learned trial judge was satisfied, just as we are that the prosecution had discharged their burden to prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt. in the overall, we find that the conviction is safe,” Abdul Karim added.

Following his failed appeal, Najib was granted a stay of execution by the Court of Appeal for his sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment and RM210 million fine, pending the outcome of his appeal at the Federal Court.

The High Court previously sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail for each of six charges (three counts each of criminal breach of trust and money laundering), as well as 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine with an additional five years’ jail if the fine is not paid for the abuse of position charge.

The High Court had decided that all the prison sentences would run concurrently or at the same time, which would mean a maximum imprisonment of 12 years for Najib.

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